chasing answers newsletter #57
Dance, dance, dance
“Children should enjoy the few years they have just being a kid.” - Dwayne Hickman
I’m writing this early Sunday morning as I prepare to spend the day at my daughter’s dance recital—two back-to-back shows. We arrive at 11:30 AM, and if we’re lucky, we’ll be out of the building around 8:00 PM.
I love going to my daughter’s events, whether it’s dance or gymnastics, but after yesterday’s full dress rehearsal, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about the possible negative effects this could have on my daughter.
I understand a lot of work goes into these recitals, and the instructors want everything to be perfect. And for the older dancers who have been doing this for 10, 12, or even 15 years, this is what they have worked towards their entire lives. After years of being the background dancers, they now get to be the stars.
But some of these kids are five and six years old. And the way they are evaluated to ensure their makeup is perfect, they have no fly-aways (loose hairs that have escaped the maniacal grip of their ponytail,) and their leotard fits just right is a little alarming to me.
All my daughter wanted was to have fun with her friends and sneak into the “snack room” and eat a cookie or two. But she couldn’t because she might mess up her lipstick or get chocolate on her costume. All I could do was look at her and shrug my shoulders.
I don’t mind seeing these kids disciplined. Practicing, learning, and executing their moves teaches valuable lessons. But so much focus on their appearance feels dangerous.recently wrote an excellent piece on the topic of body image, and it is stories like this that help drive my fear.
Are we instilling something in these girls at this young age that will stick with them into early adulthood? Something that tells them their value, at least partly, is based on how they look.
And then there is the stress.
The atmosphere wasn’t light-hearted and fun. It was tense and strained. It didn’t feel as though anyone was enjoying themselves. Moms were irritable towards their daughters. The instructors were snappy with the moms. Everyone looked exhausted.
My daughter wanted to join dance because she loves the act of dancing. Last night she told me she no longer wants to dance after the recital. I felt incredibly sad when she told me this. She will spend hours dancing around the house, mimicking her favorite dance moves from Disney movies, and loving every minute of it. But, as with many other things, we adults have found a way to suck the fun out of something kids naturally enjoy doing.
Maybe it wouldn’t hurt if, every once in a while, we just sat back, ate a cookie, and let kids be kids.
That’s it for this week.
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