I rolled up to my daughter’s dance class with a car full of girls. It was our first week of dance class and the first week for Georgia and Olivia to be in Hip-Hop dance class together. There was a lot of dance class excitement and it was our carpool week to bring along a little friend who was also in the class.
The girls could hardly contain their excitement as we got to the dance studio. I was excited to see them dance and enjoy the time together. I had in tow Rocky and Harper, and I knew that having all of my kids together for this class could spell disaster. That was five girls in tow total, by the way.
As the class started I kept Rocky occupied with my phone and sitting near me to watch the girls dance in class. For a long time she wasn’t interested in what her sisters where doing and could care less. But then she started to get interested in the music and the activity.
I was happy about her interest in her sister’s class. She was scheduled to take her first ever dance class the very next day so I wanted her to feel comfortable in the dance studio and perhaps get excited about what she would be doing the following day.
There were other parents watching and no one seemed to mind when Raquel got on the dance floor to dance around with the older girls. I kept trying to pull her back to me and keep her out of the way. At one point the instructor motioned for Rocky to come dance with her near the corner and out of the way of the girls who were sashaying across the room.
It didn’t really cross my mind that trouble was brewing. When Rocky got in the way, I would encourage her to dance in a place where she would not be in the way. Suddenly, a gray-haired granny, who was there watching with her two other granddaughter’s, made angry gesticulations at me and mouthed the words, “COME ON!”
I was taken aback and was so offended in the manner in which this woman addressed me, having given me no prior notice that what was happening wasn’t okay with her, that I quickly scooped Rocky up and said, “Really?! In a children’s dance class?” I apologized to the other two parents who were sitting there if I inconvenienced anyone and went outside to get Rocky out of there and give me a moment to think.
At first I was livid, “Who does she think she is?” “How dare she speak to me that way!” and “B@#*!” were all things that ran through my head. I even had a random thought of finding her car and slashing her tires.
After thinking about it for a few minutes, I realized that I had in fact infringed on the experience of the other children in the room by allowing my daughter to get in the way in the first place. Their experience, and perhaps the hope for their families, wasn’t to have their sashay cut short mid-room by a giddy two-year old getting her grove on. No, it was to sashay without interference at all.
So upon re-entering the room, I decided to have Raquel hang with me in the viewing room where she could watch her sisters without getting in the way. After the class was over, I went over to the instructor and apologized for allowing Rocky to disrupt the class. She told me it was absolutely fine and that there wasn’t anything wrong with it.
Then I approached the Grandma. I wanted to apologize for getting defensive and angry back at her and tell her that I was sorry I let Rocky get in the way. But as soon as my apology left my mouth I realized quickly that this woman wasn’t the nicest woman in the world. She stood in front of me going on and on about “not wanting anyone to get hurt” and told me that the teacher was upset about it too. Hmm, just talked to the teacher lady and she didn’t seem upset to me. My words fell flat and I immediately regretted trying to make things right with her. She wasn’t listening as I talked anyway.
As I walked away, another lady approached me and said, “don’t worry about it, she’s just somebody’s grandma”. But I was sick to my stomach as I left. I felt my hopes for my experience of my daughter’s first dance class get a little crushed. I just kept thinking to myself, “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission…nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission”
But what troubled me later wasn’t so much that this had happened, it was the fear that perhaps this wasn’t the first time I was ignorant to the sentiments of those around me when I was with my children. Perhaps under the guise of thinking something they are doing was “cute,” I had ignored that it might not have been so cute to everyone else. Sure, I didn’t deserve to be talked to like that, but Grandma was right.
Ultimately, I decided not to beat myself up to much over this experience but rather use it as an opportunity to pay closer attention to those around me with my kids. Are they being annoying to anyone? Do we need to relocate? Perhaps next time I could ask if it was okay with people before just assuming it. In general, I tend to be a pretty laid back parent and I enjoy letting my kids be kids. I also really enjoy other people’s kids (most of the time) and don’t get annoyed at children too easily. I try to respect that people parent differently and honestly I think we do the best we can.
It’s interesting to me how life’s lessons come to me as I parent. I had no idea that I could have such moments of self-reflection. Years prior to an experience like this one I would have never apologized to the lady. She would have just been a “B#@*%” and nothing more. I would have been appalled and not seen my part in the experience.
I am learning so much on this journey and I can’t wait until this week to see how dance class goes. I think I’m going to sit down right next to Granny. If anything it might make for an interesting story for next time.