ballet: an update

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– We’re at the one month mark for ballet class.
– He still loves it.
– He’s not only the only boy in his class, but there are so few boys in this ballet school that the woman registering us wasn’t sure if he was dressed right. “Actually” she said, “I’m not sure what boys are suppose to wear. Let’s ask the teacher.” This interaction really emphasized for me: there are very few boys in ballet.
– When he was all dressed and ready for his first class, we approached the door to the classroom together and I could hear parents whispering “look! a boy!” and then the teacher saw us, starting clapping and said “Yay!! a boy!!”
– I’ve asked Andrew a few times if he minds being the only boy…and he doesn’t. He honestly doesn’t care. When he was first introduced to ballet, the ballet company came to his school and worked with all of the second graders…so his first taste of it showed him that it was for everyone. He just thinks it funny that in his class he happens to be the only boy.
– While he’s in class, Isaac and I sit out in the waiting area where Isaac plays on the iPad. From there I can hear the teacher and take peaks at the class. I hear her call them “dancers”. As in “Okay dancers! Everyone take a spot at the bar!” and then sometimes she slips and she calls them “Ladies….and Gentlemen!” ha! I really feel like she is doing a great job at making Andrew feel comfortable and modeling for the other dancers that boys in ballet is okay.
– One of the little girl’s dads talks to me a lot during class. He’s made it clear that he thinks it’s great that Andrew is in ballet. I asked him if his daughter mentioned it to him and what she thinks about having a boy in the class. “Oh. She thought it was weird. But I told her: You watch. One day he’ll be the one lifting you! You better be nice to him!” ha!
– Andrew was in physical therapy for trunk support up until last Spring. And I can see how ballet is going to help him keep building his muscles. When I watch Andrew do the stretches the teacher models, I can see that he is not as toned as many of the little girls. His shoulders are slumped, he’s not as flexible or controlled. There was one stretch she was having them do where they all lay on the floor and stretch up their legs without bending their knees…and Andrew couldn’t do it. He just didn’t have the abs for it. So now we are practicing those stretches everyday after school. I’m trying to think of it as “ballet will make him stronger!” instead of “he’s not strong enough!”
– Sometimes he gets silly in class. “Silly” is Andrew’s achilles heel. And the silly turns up at the end of class when he’s tired. And I’m dying to pull him aside and calm him down. I want to intervene and fix it and nip the silly in the bud. I sit there in the waiting room, swimming in stress, wishing the silly away. But the teacher handles it. She brings him closer to her. She partners him with someone that can get him on track. There’s no need for me to swim around in a stress pool of anxiety…and yet…I do.
– While he’s in class, the dancers from the next class start coming into the waiting room and warming up. They are older girls…about 12…and they warm up by lifting their legs over their heads making impressive angles. And when Andrew’s class is done, Isaac claims it’s “his turn for ballet!” and he tries to run into the classroom to join the 12 year old girls. I tell him he has to wait until he’s 8.
– Andrew has put us into a lot of situations where he was the “only one”. The only white one or the only boy or the only kid with Special Needs. And although I’d like to say that I’m totally on board and it never bothers me…that I am an extremely advanced human…I’m not. I do worry about it. I always wonder if it will be okay…if HE will be okay. Because, you know, sometimes it’s not okay. Sometimes the ‘only one’ has a really hard time with it. But, knock on wood, it seems to be fine so far. And I think a lot of that is because of Andrew. Part of being on the Autistic Spectrum is having a social delay…and for Andrew that seems to mean he just doesn’t grasp social categories the same way I do. They are not as important to him. He just shows up. My little Labrador Retriever son…authentically being his silly self with whatever group he finds himself in. While I wait on the edges, swimming in stress, hoping he’ll be okay.

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About robyn

I stopped teaching Kindergarten in 2005 to become the mom of two crazy boys here in Brooklyn. At first I thought being a stay at home mom meant that I needed to pour all my time and energy directly into my sons, but I realized somewhere along the way that being a rockstar mom meant not only taking good care of my boys, but also taking good care of myself. And taking good care of myself means pursuing something creative...just about everyday. I started Made In Brooklyn to motivate myself in my creative goals as well as share my work with others and perhaps inspire them in their own creative journeys.
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6 Responses to ballet: an update

  1. There are SO many things I love about this post, Robyn. The main thing I love is that Andrew is following his dreams, regardless of what anyone else thinks about him. I love that being the “only one” doesn’t matter to that kid, and I hope he always maintains that about himself. And I think we always worry about our kids being accepted. Carrie went to a networking meeting last night – really put herself out there – and I was SO nervous for her. (She did awesome!)

    As I work my way back in to yoga, I have caught myself thinking “I’m not strong enough to do that…” so I loved how you wrote that those challenging stretches are “making him stronger.” Thanks for that – yoga is making me stronger!!!

    I’m looking forward to hearing more about Andrew’s ballet progress!

  2. janel says:

    You are one awesome mom…and all this parenting from your wonderful wisdom…just makes you stronger. Lucky boys…lucky husband…you are doing it with love, grace, and wisdom.

  3. Cathy says:

    I’m so happy that Andrew is liking ballet and doesn’t care if he’s the only boy there. I love his outfit! My daughter Julia started baseball this summer and we also got the “let’s go guys… and girls!” She’s not the only one but they are not many… she doesn’t care, she just wants to play in the majors!
    (on the down side, I heard a grandfather tell his grandson “don’t run like a girl” I didn’t say anything but I gave him one of my nasty looks…)

  4. MamaV says:

    Ugh. Cathy, anytime I hear a kid call out, “You [yell/cry/run/throw] like a girl!” I let him have a piece of my mind! ;)

    Rock on, Andrew! Keep dancing!

  5. Anne Hoang says:

    I recently went to a dance show of my niece, which had different schools showcasing their dance teams (welcome to Orange County). Anyway, Glendale (near L.A.) had an all boys team. It made me cry. It was so transformative and countercultural. I would way rather have been on their team. I’ve also seen my niece’s dance studio recitals, which have only ever had one boy. Also makes me cry. I give him a standing ovation.

    Anyway, I’m glad it can feel like an unencumbered activity for Andrew that is just fun.

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