My Kid’s Ballet Class Ticks Me Off
~By Kristine Castagnaro, It’s Not Wine, It’s Mommy Juice!
My daughter Mgazi takes ballet class every Wednesday afternoon. Every Tuesday night, I put her leotard and ballet slippers into her backpack for the next day’s class. To be honest, I remember to do this only about 50 percent the time. The other half I forget and Mgazi has to wear her school clothes and socks to class — something I know she doesn’t appreciate because she complains bitterly. Apparently it’s not easy to plié in jeans.
So I had the brilliant idea of putting her ballet supplies in her backpack and instructing her to leave them there all week long. That way, they’d always be handy. She only wears the leotard for 25 minutes at a time. Now she could wear it each and every class and I wouldn’t have to wash it! Should I wash it? Of course! But do I HAVE to? I chose to be kind to the environment and do as hotels do — only launder what was left for me on the bathroom floor.
My approach seemed to be working. Mgazi stopped complaining. I promptly forgot there was ever an issue.
Last week, I received a note from the ballet instructor informing me that the class would be giving an end-of-year “informal performance” the following Wednesday. She suggested that parents bring a flower or token of support for each child. I’m sorry, can someone please explain? A token for what exactly?
According to the note, for the children’s efforts. I’d seen other parents bring the class flowers or candy in previous years, but I’d never done it. My child is only doing what she does each and every Wednesday afternoon. The only difference is that I’m there to witness it in all its informal glory.
Annoyed that I would now have to purchase tokens for the entire class, I did what I usually do in these situations — I filed the note under “things to deal with at the last minute” and went about my day.
Tuesday night rolled around and I decided it was time to wash Mgazi’s leotard. I opened her backpack and found head bands, shredded paper, three markers (and only one cap, not attached to a marker), a squished banana, two unmatched and dirty socks, and one single ballet slipper. No sign of her leotard or the slipper’s mate.
“Mgazi, where is your ballet stuff?”
“I don’t know.”
We turned the house upside down and finally found the second slipper in a drawer. We didn’t find her leotard.
“Mgazi, how long has your leotard been missing?”
“A long time.”
It was too late to buy another leotard that night. I would have to leave work early the next day, buy her a new one, and drop it off at school before her class. Argh!
The next day, I rushed to the store and bought a black leotard, switching it up from the usual pink. The ballet instructor’s note failed to mention how many children were actually in the class, so I took an educated guess and purchased 15 flowers.
I arrived to the performance early and couldn’t help but announce to the other parents that I resented buying their kids Gerber daisies simply for attending ballet class. Of course, I followed this up quickly with a second announcement: they shouldn’t have to buy my kid anything either. One mom held her hands out, Price Is Right style, and exclaimed, “Ladies and gentleman, I introduce to you Room 1-10’s class parent!” With an embarrassed bow, I excused myself to deliver the leotard to Mgazi, tags still attached.
I explained to the teacher that I had just realized Mgazi had been attending ballet without the proper attire. “Yes, it’s been that way for a couple of months now,” she replied.
“Teacher, did it not occur to you to say something to me?”
She didn’t respond, probably because I only said it in my head.
Mgazi accepted the leotard without so much as a smile and asked, “Can I quit going to ballet?”
“No, you may NOT quit ballet,” I told her (out loud) and popped her on the head with the Gerber daisies. The teacher was still in the room. Ashamed, I took my leave.
Soon, 16 children entered the performance space. Fifteen were wearing pink leotards with frilly skirts and matching pink ballet slippers. The 16th child wore a black leotard two sizes too small and so tight it strained to cover her bottom. I can’t help but wonder how many of the adults in attendance think Room 1-10′s Class Parent sent her child to ballet class wearing a thong.