What I learned as a Dance Mom
February 11, 2016
I grew up in Atlanta and currently live in East Cobb with my husband (who is also a pediatrician) and 3 girls, ages 9, 12 and 15. In my 15 years at Dekalb Pediatrics (yes, the commute is worth it!) I am often asked about after school activities – too few, too many, how to choose, how to balance, benefits, etc. I thought I’d share my journey with you.
Starting in preschool I began to expose my oldest to a wide variety of activities. She played soccer, baseball, gymnastics and dance. My daughter enjoyed everything she did, but it soon became clear that she was not interested in chasing after balls. Dance became the one extracurricular that she loved with all her heart. She became devoted to dance as did her 2 sisters, and now, I spend a lot of time being a “dance mom”. Truthfully, I had no idea what we had gotten ourselves into. I have learned how to “stone” (i.e. bedazzle costumes with rhinestones), put on stage makeup, false eyelashes, make an almost, but not quite perfect ballet bun, as well as style many other intricate hairstyles.
More importantly, I have learned how to find my children during dances where I can barely see them on stage, all the dancers are wearing hats and they all look alike! This has been an important talent, because I have learned how important it is to notice every detail, mistakes and all. I notice, not because I plan on pointing them out, but because they will tell me about them. I can then say, “Yes, I noticed that double pirouette you stumbled on”. I then am sure to let them know how much I enjoyed being in the audience because it was a pleasure to watch their happy faces while they did something they truly enjoy.
I have consistently tried to let them know how important the time is that we get to spend together. We have been put in many situations where we have canadian roulette about 5 minutes to change costume and hair styles. We have driven downtown and worried that the traffic would make us late. Through all this, we have learned how to communicate with each other. Sometimes not in a calm voice, but communicate, nonetheless. And again, I have tried to make sure they know that this time is valuable.
Dance has not always come easy to my 3 girls. They have learned to be the best that they can personally be. Dance has helped to teach them the perseverance required to succeed in all aspects of their lives. I believe that after initially struggling, the success my daughter had in her first high school AP class is partially due to the skills she has learned from dance. I love that my girls are devoted to dance. But, as the years have gone by, I am happiest to watch them wisely manage the other important facets of their lives such as camp, friends, family and school activities. I appreciate all dance has taught us. For our family, dance started as the extracurricular activity of choice and has become an important learning tool to use in our parenting arsenal.
So expose your children to choices, let them guide you as to what they truly enjoy and strive for balance. Then you too can become a “_____ mom”! For the American Academy of Pediatric’s report on balancing school and extracurriculars see the following: http://www2.aap.org/pressroom/play-public.htm
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