Wednesday, May 20

She's Got a Good Heart

Another Wednesday, another dance class. This week's class was much like the past few--Alexis happily stood on her little circle mat, focused intently on trying to copy the instructor's every step as they tap danced to Supercalafrajilisticexpealadocious. Her face comically alternated from a happy grin to her determined tongue-hanging-out face, back to a grin, back her tongue hanging out, lather, rinse, and repeat. When they finally finished working through the routine as a group, the kids all ran to stand next to the wall so that they could take turns doing a step or two of solo dancing.

As each kid took a turn at making up a dance step, I sat glued to the glass watching her. The Cool Moms (including me) had managed to secure the best spot for kid-watching, so we intently watched our daughters get their groove on, quietly chuckling each time one of them did something a little bit funny or cute.

In Alexis' case, pretty much EVERYTHING she does is either a little bit funny or cute. She's the smallest in the class, and the only kid still sporting a fair amount of baby fat. Frankly, it's nothing short of the cutest thing on Earth to watch her do steps that seem more geared towards kids much older. She does really well, but her still-almost-a-baby body sometimes betrays her in ways that just doesn't happen to the 5 and 6-year olds.

As she stepped up to do her solo, all eyes turned towards Alexis. She busted out a smashing little sequence of tap moves that were certainly advanced for her age. And OMG, SO CUTE! All the adults chuckled as she rushed back to her spot, and several moms commented to me that she was (OBVIOUSLY!) the cutest. thing. ever.

I don't know exactly what happened next, but suddenly Alexis wasn't standing on her circle. Instead, she stood inches from my face on the other side of the glass, tears in her eyes as she stared directly at me. Her eyes told a story of pure pain, so I rushed over to the door to find out what had happened.

Alexis was sobbing. She was sobbing so hard she couldn't string together the words to tell me what was wrong, so I scooped her up and walked out to the hall to try talking to her. Minutes later she finally choked out the words that broke my heart. "Someone laughed at me," she whispered.

We talked for several minutes about how it was OK for people to laugh with us and that whoever had laughed certainly meant no harm. We discussed how she sometimes laughs when I poke myself in the eye with my sunglasses, when Meg falls off the couch, and when Daddy falls on the stairs. On and on it went, until finally I was able to coax her back into the dance room. Within minutes she was falling over in a fit of giggles, but the pain in her eyes and the pain in her words still hang with me.

Alexis is a tender-hearted little thing. Sometimes it's a good thing because she will guilt herself into good behavior. Sometimes it's a bad thing when she lets embarrassment keep her from having fun. I mostly worry that if she doesn't grow some thicker skin soon, she's in for a bumpy ride.

The teen years are going to SUCK.

26 comments:

  1. You know how old I am, and I still guilt myself into good behavior and sometimes let myself get tricked into not doing thing out of fear of embarassment. However, I really wish my mom had taken me aside when I was little like you did and explain that it's ok. I think you did a great job w/ A today. And if you keep it up next time this happens, she'll be less likely to worry about all that stuff.

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  2. @pghrugbyangel--I don't think she believed me that it's OK when people laugh. :-(

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  3. Oh my, that must have broken your heart... I know if my son said that to me, with tears in his eyes, and sobbing - I'd probably start crying, too! Good for you for handling it so well. I'm sure she believed you... She's so precious. So cute. Glad she got over it quickly. Let's hope things are that easy to deal with as she gets older!

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  4. OMG that sounds so familiar. My 6 year old gets so mad when she thinks we are laughing at her. We go through that same conversation every. single.time. She always says things that are funny. She has a great sense of humor and you can't help but laugh. But she doesn't get that we aren't making fun and just cries and cries.

    Both of my girls dance and I work at a dance studio and I can just picture how cute Alexis was in class today. Heck she is just plain cute everyday! Love the picture!

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  5. I started to tear up a little while reading this because the same sorta thing happened to me while dancing (oh and because I'm hormonal). During my first recital at 5 yrs., I actually fell on my tutu-ed tushy and when the people laughed a little (at what my mother SWEARS was my total cuteness) I was CRUSHED!! I totally feel for her. But I'm SO glad she went back in there, that's a good sign. I kept dancing too! She's gonna be alright... : )

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  6. Good job, Mom. xoxo

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  7. You were there for her . . . and mama, THAT is what matters.

    And those teen years . . . you'll be there, too (even if you'd rather be anywhere else but there).

    Thick skin? It'll be more about her tender heart . . . she'll just GET it.

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  8. oh honey. that is the SUCK for sure.

    those mean kids better get outta town though, before alexis' west coast posse arrives to kick. their. butts.

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  9. Oh, poor Alexis! That's the way I was as a kid and I definitely grew some thick skin, so you have hope :)

    She would be the cutest thing ever tap dancing. I SO want to see that!

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  10. It's hard to be tough and sweet. She's got the sweet down, and plenty of time to work on the tough.

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  11. Poor thing. I hate That Look. The one that says, "Why are these people being mean to me?"

    My kid got kicked in the face and then pushed to the ground at the playground, yesterday. I was actually glad to see it. Not because I'm a mean biotch (though that is true), but because I want the kid to learn how to respond in such situations. I didn't intervene and just stood there watching. (Note - the older, chubby kid who was bludgeoning my son had his mom nearby who looked like she was about to kill him.) Anyway, my kid pointed at his face and said, "Head hurts?" and looked at me in confusion. "It's ok," I told him. And he went back to playing. He didn't avoid the kid or run away from him. He just moved on.

    Anyway, I think you handled it well. They have to learn that not everybody is their friend, and how to cope when some kid is mean. It sucks, but kids are going to be mean all through school.

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  12. Alexis is little yet. You don't want her to serious or thick skinned at her age. She's extremely intelligent with a good grasp of what makes her comfortable. I see Alexis standing up for herself and following her own drummer. That dear friend is a GOOD thing. (Hugs)Indigo

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  13. Oh, the agony. There's nothing (and I mean nothing!) like when innocent young kids learn how cruel the world can be. And there's not much that we can do to help other than offer a shoulder, give a hug, and cry with them. Life is so unfair.

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  14. I think I'm moving to a hut in Fiji during my teen years and living in a drunken stupor until my husband sends word it's okay to return and she's moved out and to college.

    You did good.

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  15. oh man, break my HEART. You did exactly right though, explaining the laughing WITH thing and using all the examples you did.

    *sigh* This is why having kids is hard. Yeah the no sleep thing sucks and the tantrums suck, but THIS is the stuff I dread. Seeing them hurt emotionally and needing to fix it.

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  16. My kids are both very sensitive and this stuff kills me. When it comes to parenting, You are always prepared for sleepless nights and dirty diapers but no one tells you about the million broken hearts.

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  17. Poor thing! That just broke my heart and I didn't have to see it. I remember those times and I am reliving them again with Little Miss. You did better than I did.

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  18. You are such a good Mommy. I am really glad you taught her in the moment like that. It will be fresh in her mind, and maybe, just maybe she will rememeber next time. If she doesn't just make it a do- over. I wish I had you for a mommy when I was little. I think I would be much stronger now. Thanks for sharing!

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  19. That hurt is like a sucker punch to a mom's gut. Can't say I didn't hurt right along with you on that one. But your list of things she laughs at? Cracked me up! (Especially Dad falling on the stairs! ha) There's no easy way through this one and I think you said all the right things!

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  20. I felt the same way when Indy buried her face this weekend. We took the kids out for a snack. Indy was chanting "ketchup!" loudly and we all told her to whisper. :( I felt so bad for a minute there, but then I reminded myself that no matter how darling they are it's just not as cute when a kid is yelling "ketchup" when you're sitting next to them. After a few minutes, she came around, but it killed me a little. She was just so happy to see the ketchup. :*(

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  21. I totally feel ya. This mothering gig is so friggin hard at times, but you did good - you were there.

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  22. Dude, I'm sitting here trying to enjoy a bagel with bacon cream cheese (did I ever tell you I'm an ex-vegetarian? And look at me now, can't even have cream cheese without a pig being slaughtered for it... Your farmer's market cow killer lady would be proud...), and you freaking break my heart like that.

    The thing is? I know that pain all too well. Except that *I'm* the one who inflicted it on my child.

    I laughed at him. Yeah, how good of a mom am I? And his whole face fell apart like if I'd stabbed him through the heart and he simply said "Don't laugh at me."

    And this is proof that once again I need to fly to Pittsburgh, follow you around for a few days and take copious notes so that I can learn from the best Mama I know.

    Because my response? Was that I wasn't laughing *at* him, I was laughing with him. And that if I wasn't laughing, it would mean he's a boring person, and no one likes boring people.

    Which now causes little man to split up his life in two time periods: "Remember When I Was Boring" and "Now."

    I suck.

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  23. Anonymous12:42 PM

    When my daughter was 3 and in her first dance recital, her tutu fell down while dancing. The look of mortification on her face made me boo hoo in the audience, I wanted to run up on the stage and grab her. My uncle, bless his bones, did his special whistle for her and yelled, that's ok bay bay, you are doing great! She picked her tutu back up and continued to dance, buy I tell you, not once did she let go of that thing for the remainder of the dance.

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  24. It's amazing the defense mechanisms they will develop as they get older, while still being the sensitive, big-hearted kids everyone loves to be around.

    She'll be fine... she's got a great guide as she grows up.

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  25. Oh that must have broken your heart, but great job, mama!

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  26. I was that kind of sensitive kid, but over time I developed a thick enough skin. It takes time, and there's no need to rush it. One of the best things my mom did was be understanding of how sensitive I was and talk to me like you talked to Alexis. To explain and be sympathetic, not just say buck up or something like that.

    Of course there are different ways to help build that thick skin, you will find one that works for you and Alexis. When my mom would explain things, that was what helped me. Because I was sensitive to emotions, figuring out why people did what they did helped me deal with it.

    All that to say that it sounds like you did a great job. And it's not so bad to keep that sensitive side on the inside (I'm still a very sensitive person, and pregnancy does not help).

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