So Little F goes to ballet every week because she loves pink sparkly things and dancing round the room pretending to be a ballerina. You can imagine, as Mum of four girls, and because I loved dance myself when I was a child, I have had to fight against the very real risk of turning into some awful ballet mother. You know the type I mean, immaculate, competitive, everything has to be perfect, they want their little girl to dance because they never got to, living out their own dream through their child.
I made sure I kept this horrible image in mind when Miss G decided a few years ago that she didn’t want to do ballet any more. It was such a shame as she was talented, loved dance and had just been in a lovely show, but the fact was she had made up her mind that she no longer wanted to give up her weekends or dance at all. She had had enough. I tried explaining that I have always regretted stopping my ballet lessons as a teenager and if I had my time again, I would have carried on with it. Yet Miss G was adamant and I respected her decision.
So I must admit, I was really happy when Little F started ballet classes last year. The only thing is, I think the whole trying not to be a ballet mother thing has backfired. I am not a competitive ‘my daughter is more talented than yours’ Dance Mum, instead I have turned into a bad ‘I can’t get anything right, every dance teacher’s nightmare’ kind of Dance Mum.
At the end of last term, I was told that Little F’s pink leotard wasn’t right as it has not got sleeves over the shoulders like everyone else’s had and her skirt was not the required length. Therefore this summer, I went to the ballet shop and bought a new leotard with regulation sleeves and the correct skirt at the correct length. I even pushed the boat out and bought brand new shoes,pink socks, hairpins and hairnet as they are always disappearing. I sent Little F to class with my head held high, after all, she looked very smart but it turned out I was meant to buy her a scarf to do her dance with as well. So I went out and bought a scarf in lovely sparkly pink, she was very pleased with it.
I need to add that this term, Little F has been selected (obviously because she is so talented, not because the whole class has been picked or anything!) to do her first ballet exam. This is going to involve some extra classes for this term and involves a 9am start on as Saturday morning (I mean who’s idea was that?). Anyway I sent Little F back for her next class in new uniform, complete with sparkly scarf. She was also supposed to take a snack and a drink but she had said she didn’t need it. At the end of the lesson, I was called up in front of the extremely scary dance teacher who makes me feel as though I am back at school, ‘Where was Little F’s snack?’ I explained she hadn’t wanted it but apparently it is compulsory and could I please bring a blank cd for next time for them to record the exam music on as well so they could practice.
Well the next week, I packed a snack and a drink and persuaded my husband to find a blank disc as I had no idea where to get one. We duly gave the disk in at the start of class, labelled with Little F’s name. ‘Haven’t you put her level on? It should say as we get loads of these, ‘ grumbled the dance teacher. ‘Oh dear, failed again,’ I thought, was I ever going to get this right?
At the end of class the following week, the teacher was waiting for me, ‘Here is the disk,’ she said, ‘But we’ve had to provide another as yours was not blank.’ She handed it to me with a scowl. It was to get worse, ‘Also you haven’t paid for your coaching classes,’ she said accusingly.
‘Oh, I’m so sorry,’ I stammered, ‘I did give a cheque in at the beginning of the term for her lessons and another for the exam fee.’
‘No,’ snapped the teacher, ‘I’m talking about the separate four pounds per coaching session.’
‘Of course, I’ll settle up right now,’ I said, ‘Can I pay for the term so it’s done?’
‘No,it’s per lesson, you can pay me for what she’s done so far’ she said tightly.
‘Oh ok,’ I replied, scrabbling in my bag for the money and apologising profusely once more.
‘Well, it said on the letter,’ was all she would say.
So that told me. I rushed home and re-read the letter which I had put in my safe spot for documents where my OCD tidy eldest daughter and my ever helpful husband can’t come across them and put them somewhere they will never be found again.
It did say we should pay four pounds a lesson but not that you paid by the week. ‘See, hah,’ like a crazed person I was wondering round the house muttering, ‘see, it wasn’t very clear in the letter!’
Oh dear, I just feel like I can’t get anything right at this dance school, no matter how hard I try. But it can’t be that hard, I reasoned, I need to get a grip and do this. So this week, I was ready, correct uniform, tick, pink sparkly scarf, tick, snack and drink, tick, cd had been used and dance practised, tick, cash was ready for payment, tick. Yes, I was on fleek, as Big M and Miss G would say, I could do this, no problem. I strode in to the dance school to pick Little F up, feeling at peace with the world, I was in control,it wasn’t that hard after all, just a matter of organisation.
As I walked out with Little F, I asked casually,’ How did your class go today, did you have everything you needed?’
‘Oh yes,’ replied Little F, ‘But do you notice something different about me?’
‘No,’ I replied, glancing at her blearily as I was still trying to recover from the usual early Saturday start after a week of early starts and was totally stumped at this.
‘My bun,’ she said,’silly Mummy, it fell out in the middle of the ballet class, it was so embarrassing, the teacher had to stop the whole class and re-do it!’
Oh no, failed again! Perhaps I understand why Miss G quit ballet class after all….