Grace is a child, stuck between a little girl, and a teenager…

Ever since Grace was a toddler, we knew she had a flare for the dramatic. When she got hurt, no matter how small, she would carry on as if someone had just cut her leg off! When she was happy, she was ECSTATIC!

We put her in dance class when she was 3 to give her an outlet for that energy. Since her aunt and I were both dancers growing up, chances were good that she’d have a knack for it. That and the fact that before she could walk, Grace was tap dancing as she held on to things. She didn’t disappoint! In her dance recital when she was 5, her tap shoe came untied… the assistant teacher hopped on stage to tie her shoe so she wouldn’t fall. She just kept on dancing as if there wasn’t a teacher attached to her laces – smile and all… oh yeah, this girl was born to perform!! She has now been in 6 dance recitals, and is about to enter the world of competition dance…

This year, about a month before the dance recital, my hip hop class decided it would be fun to have our daughters join us in the recital. That meant Grace had 3-4 weeks to learn the entire dance that we had been working on since December! I was a little nervous that she wouldn’t be able to do it, but wanted to be encouraging… She spent 3 weeks going to her own dance class, coming to mine, and even taking a Saturday morning to work on the dance. I couldn’t believe how hard she was working! She was tired, but she kept working… she was willing to take constructive criticism without taking it too personally… I was so impressed!! Even the day of the recital, we were backstage practicing the dance – she was trying to keep arms straight, hit the moves hard… we got on stage, and she ROCKED IT!! From my perspective, you couldn’t even tell that she hadn’t been in the class all year! I can’t wait until the video comes, so I can watch it!

The day of Dress Rehearsal, Grace got a letter from the dance studio inviting her to take part in Company – the competitive level of dance… she’s been watching those girls and wanting to be a part of their groups for the entire 4 years we’ve been in WI. She was so excited!! We just started the required summer dance class on Wednesday… The summer class is 2 hours of intense strength training mixed with dance technique. Grace didn’t take ballet last year, so she struggled a bit with the ballet portion of the class (which was probably a good 45 minutes). By the time we were doing drills across the floor (about an hour and a half into class), she was crying, saying, “I can’t do it!” I just kept trying to encourage her, reminding her that all the other girls in the class had been doing it for a couple years, and that she just needs to keep trying, and all her ballet will come back to her. This is the moment where I struggle with tough-love vs encouragement. I get a little tired of everything turning into a drama… luckily, Miki, the teacher let her try some of the combinations at a slightly slower pace, so she kept trying. She was wiped at the end (so was I)!! As we left dance, she said to me, “Mom, I feel like I’m really growing up!” She was proud of herself that she made it through this intense class, even though it was hard. Even though she was the youngest one in the class, she kept trying…

She wants so badly to grow up, but sometimes, she’s just a little girl… when she’s at daycare, sometimes she runs up and gives me hugs just like my preschooler does, other times, she acts like she’s too cool to do more than say hi to me. She’ll walk around acting like a Diva one minute, but then, all the sudden, she’ll have an emotional breakdown, want hugs… I don’t think she really knows how to deal with her ever-changing emotions… and to be honest, neither do I!

I try to find the right times to encourage her, and the right time to push her… Most of the time, I think I do ok, but like any other parent, there are times when I don’t respond the right way, get frustrated, and just plain screw up…


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