Thursday, February 26

Her Owner's Manual Didn't Mention This One

About a month ago, Alexis graduated from her parent/child gymnastics class--a class she love-love-LOVED. She was never much into the actual gymnastics portion of the class, but the music and activities and running around and general chaos was something that she was really into. We had to figure out whether to continue with the same class, move her up to the next level of gymnastics (parent-free), or enroll her in a combination dance/gymnastics class (also parent-free).

The whole reason we started taking her in the first place was for her to have fun while she works on her shyness a little bit, so we knew it was time to move out of the parent/child classes. It was time for her to have some fun without a parent in the room to depend on. But then came the hard part--dance and gymnastics combo (30 mins of dance followed by 30 mins of gymnastics), or just gymnastics? I struggled with the choice for weeks, but then in a moment of brilliance, turned to Alexis and asked her what she wanted.

Dance. A very, very animated and excited vote for dance.

And so it was.

Week one went precisely as I expected--Alexis was hesitant to participate. She spent the entire first 30 minutes clinging to me and refusing to let me leave the room, but so did a couple of the other younger kids. Week two was better, and week three was even better than that. The gradual improvement was promising.

Then came week four.

That week, for some unknown reason, the teacher's assistant wasn't in the room with the class. The assistant had been Alexis' crutch--the adult in the room who occasionally reminded her to participate and distracted her from wondering where I had gone. Without her there, Alexis ended up collapsing into a pile of tears just as I broke out of my hiding place on the other side of the windows that surround the classroom. I took her out into the hall to calm her down. Between sobs, she wailed, "I wanna go hooooome."

It was heart-breaking, and so definitely not what I wanted to hear.

She continued with, "I don't like dance class" and "I wanna leave" and the tears. OMG, the tears.

Then came time for the gymnastics half of the class and she jumped right back on the train and was happy again.

I was confused. I could understood that she was more comfortable with the gymnastics half of the class because she's more accustomed to that room (they switch from a dance room to the same gym we were in last session at the halfway point), but I couldn't figure out how she could say that she doesn't like dance class. While she hasn't been the perfect little participant, she has been very carefully paying attention. The kid trounces around the house talking about ballet, doing ballet, and generally gushing about how much she loves ballet. There's much talk about first position and plies, and even though she doesn't always practice in class, she more than makes up for lost time once she gets home. The kid LOVES ballet.

It's been nearly a week since the total and complete breakdown, and I've been struggling trying to figure out what to do, if anything. I've been racking my brain trying to understand the obvious disconnect--how can a kid who loves to dance at home hate the class so much? I got my answer today, directly from the mouth of the confusing little one.

She doesn't like the teacher.

I have never heard Alexis say she doesn't like someone before.

In a way I can see why she doesn't like the teacher, but the teacher really isn't doing anything wrong. She just has a different personality from the other teachers at the place. I guess I would say that she's not as "warm." She is certainly nice, she is certainly professional, she is certainly qualified, and she certainly isn't having any problems with the other kids in the class. It's all Alexis. Alexis has apparently decided she doesn't like her, and is done giving her a chance.

The teacher is going to be gone for the next two weeks on a little vacation, so we'll be going to dance class this week as usual. I'm hoping she is more willing to participate with the not-liked teacher absent, but then what? When that teacher returns, will Alexis go back to hating the class? Should I just switch her to the all gymnastics class (with a teacher I know she likes) and be done with it? Or what?

And would moving her to a class with a different teacher just be caving to the shyness that she so badly needs to work on? Does it even matter, considering she's only three and has plenty of time to figure out that momma ain't always gonna bail her out?



  1. That's a hard one. I have always been one to scoff at those moms that spend grade school picking their kids teachers, etc, but she's young. I'd give her a little more time before deciding anything.

  2. I'd say gymnastics is the way to go if she's willing. It's working on her shyness while giving her something she enjoys. Except you'll be deprived of ballet.

  3. Huh. Good question. Its a good lesson to learn -- that you can't get along with everyone and that someone isn't always going to be there to fix things for you and make them perfect.

    But three IS young. Go with your gut and let go of the guilt over whatever your decision is. If she's happy at this point, its worth it!

  4. I say go with the gymnastics and then maybe introduce the dance at a later time. There is still plenty of time for it. :) Like you said she is 3 and 3 year old should not stress out about these things.

  5. roo-girl actually did something similar when she was 4 with ballet. she was in a class. (class, huh. there was really only HER in it as they tried to build up a saturday clientele.)

    anyway, one week, a bunch of new kids came in and roo flipped a biscuit. total melt down.

    i pulled her from the class because the meltdown wasn't worth it.

    we drove by the dance school every day on the way to preschool. every day she pointed out "that's my dance school!" yes, i would answer, it is.

    when she turned 5, i asked if she was ready to go back. answer? YES. and until she discovered cheer in the 3rd grade, she was an avid participant.

    and now that i've written a blog post in your comment box, here's my advice:

    give alexis a break. let her be where she's comfortable 100 percent of the time. she'll let you know if she's ready to go back to dance.

  6. You hit the nail on the head. She is only three. Don't loose sleep over it. Let her just be three. Period.
    You are just finding out that she doesn't like the same people/things you think she should. She is finding her own likes/dislikes.

    My kids are 22 and 24 and I still think they should like/dislike everything I like/dislike.

    They don't.
    Now starts the hard part! Yeah, um, good luck with that!
    (Buck up, you only have 20 years of head to head combat!Ugh.)

  7. I have a love-hate relationship with Juliana's dance class. We ran into a similar issue - she loves the assistant and flipped out one week when she wasn't there.

    It was great for a while, then she was sick and the holidays. Since the begining of January its been a struggle. She is so excited to go and then she ges upset and doesn't want to go in the room. So each Monday I send her in the room with tears in her eyes and she anxiously watches me out the window as class starts. Within 2 mins she is happily dancing and all is well.

    It's a struggle, she wants to go and has fun so I don't feel like I am forcing it on her...but then I hate to see her so upset each week.

    See how she does without the other teacher and then you can always move to just gym then.

  8. I say put her in the gymnastics class and try again next session for the dance class. I don't think three is too young to start working on shyness but it may be better for her to work on it in a class she enjoys. (I love me a good run on sentence.)

  9. Like you said, she's three. She probably also think its a good idea to eat glue, so we can't entirely rely on out childrens' senses.

    And again like you said, you also don't want to "bail her out" and learn that sometimes we have to carry on and deal with things even though we may not love the person or situation.

    HOWEVER, this is supposed to be something she enjoys, not something she has to "truck through," right?

    I say beat up the ballet teacher so they have to get a new happy one. Yeah, that's my advice, Violence on an innocent children's dance instructor.

  10. I say see how the next two weeks go without that teacher, then decide. If I know you, you're already leaning in one direction so go with your gut.

  11. I pretty much agree with the majority here: she's 3; there's plenty of time to learn that sometimes you have to do things you don't like. But now, you can still be superhero mom!


  12. Just like everyone else, I've got to pick a side of the fence to be on. Dealing with people/things we don't like is a hard lesson to learn, but, again, she's only three.

    I'd say "go with yer gut" and do what that's saying. Three is not the time to learn a lesson that many many many adults haven't learned yet. She's got time to learn that, and a good Momma to help her through it--when the time comes.

  13. Sometimes personalities just clash. No explanation for it. It just happens.

    I don't really know how much kids understand at 3 years old (probably more than we know) but maybe you can explain that she can still have fun even if she doesn't like the teacher. She can stay in the back of the class. Or if it is really that stressful for her, just pull her out. Like everyone said, she's three. ;)

  14. After a session and a half, the teacher at my daughter's gymnastics class dyed her hair. Reid didn't want to go after that. She had loved the teacher but then was super-apprehensive. We quietly dropped the class after a couple of attempts. There is way too much stress in their world to make an issue of a few classes. If she were bigger, you could have a talk about getting along with different people, commitment, etc. but not yet.

  15. I have the exact opposite going on. Miss Peach's teacher is dreadful, and Miss Peach loves her. I don't know what to do. Half the time she participates, the other half she lies in the corner. I wish the teacher would try a bit to engage her. Bah. Why does dance class have to be so stressful?

  16. If it's stressing her out, I'd probably vote for the gymnastics. It should still help with the socialization if she's more relaxed.

    Many moons ago, when I was 4, I loved ballet, but hated my class. I just didn't like the class set up and kids. But later, I fell back in love with it in at different studio.

    p.s. Love her hello kitty pants!

  17. Hm, that is definitely tricky. Maybe once she has a few weeks without that teacher she will open up with the other kids and feel comfortable, so that when the teacher returns she will be fine.

    But if it *really* stressed her out, she IS three, and "bailing her out" is not such a big deal.

    Good luck!

  18. My son is three also, it's funny how they can be so cold on certain people.

    I agree with Allison, maybe she will warm up in the next two weeks.

  19. If in two weeks she still doesn't want to be there because of the teacher then I would move her.

  20. My mom had this same issue with me. I wasn't fond of my teacher for dance class either, and I tried to come up with every excuse in the book as to why I didn't want to go (I even tried telling her that she poisoned the kool-aid we were given after class.. believable, i know). But my mom made me stay in the class since she wasn't keen on the idea of letting me quit things because they got too "hard" or things weren't going my way.

    Now I've been a dancer for 19 years and teach dance myself. Things come full circle. If she's showing interest, encourage her to stay.

  21. BB--you've got nothing to worry about. There is no way that you'll do any damage by "bailing" her out if you choose.

    And if you decide not to, I think you'll know exactly how to handle it so that Alexis will do perfectly fine.

    Either way, she's Alexis! She's gonna be OK.

    *and you can totally ditch the guilt or any second-guessing yourself anxiety. You've earned your awesome mama stripes . . .

  22. No help here. Chachi went to dance class, well sorta, for a month.
    By the 4th one, I think I knew more then she did, considering she hid behind me the entire time.

    I think at this age, it should be left up to them.

  23. Sometimes they just don't "click" with someone, you know? I think it'd be fine to take her out of there if she feels that strongly about it, but I'm "easy" like that! ; )

  24. At this age, she may just be having a tough time with the change. She was used to one thing and now it is totally different. That freaks little people out. I'd see how she does with a different teacher and see if she responds differently. If she keeps hating it, I'd swap her back to the gymnastics and try dance again when she's older.

  25. I'm glad you finally figured out what the issue is, at least. Though I think it's hilarious that she's all "soul of the damned" when there's nothing really wrong with the woman. That's awesome. Alexis rocks.