1/24/07

Ballet Update

Monday afternoon, I took the girls to their ballet class. For Juliette, this is an old routine now. Her big incentive was that her new shoes would be waiting for her.

For Ilsa, however, this was a giant step toward becoming "a big girl." (We also switched out her toddler, mid-size car seat for a big kid booster, thanks to the spare one we had lying around from BA.) She seemed eager enough on the surface but was psyching herself out with comments like, "I think I will be a little bit scared." I tried to convince her that she would be scared at first but then have a good time, but her attention span is not long enough for such an esoteric discussion.

We arrived just in time despite my concerted efforts to be slightly early -- darn snow. Six girls sat in a circle on the floor, waiting for class to begin. The whole process might have been easier had Juliette's class been first, so that Ilsa might see what went on and be ready to emulate her big sis.

Instead, she had to start the show on her own. And she didn't want to. Tears. Clinging to my neck. But for Ilsa, these things are short-lived -- not like the experience-ruining tears that Juliette can produce. I asked Juliette to sit on one of the observation chairs and took Ilsa into the circle. That didn't work.

The teacher, meantime, was calling out little girl names. (Taylor. Madeleine. Isabel. Emma. It was like roll call of the most current most popular names.) Every time a girl heard her name, she was supposed to stand up and walk around the circle. I don't know the point of this. Maybe so they can get used to showing off.

Anyway, the teacher messed up Ilsa's name. "Lisa?" "Ellysa?" Dude -- it has FOUR letters. Use the phonics yo' momma taught you. So I told Ilsa it was our turn, and we walked around the circle together, coming back to sit next to the teacher's assistant. (The school rec committee has become wise to the way of pre-schoolers, recognizing that not much instruction happens if the teacher does not have a crowd control assistant.) She sat for a bit, smiling at her teachers, but she wouldn't let go of my hand. After a half minute, I convinced her that I needed to help get Juliette out of her winter coat... which was true. She stayed in the circle. I escaped. End of fuss.

I set up Juliette with the activities we'd packed. She had a hard time understanding the need for quiet voices during the other kids' class, and also that she shouldn't shout across the room to tell Ilsa what she was doing wrong. Sigh. Next week, the parents and siblings are relegated to the hallway so a bit of real teaching can begin. I'll be glad to get Juliette out of Ilsa's sphere of individuality, but that will be a big hurdle too -- getting Ilsa to enter the classroom by herself.

Ilsa did great. She stood on her line, she followed instructions, she kept smiling at me when she thought to do so -- a kind of "holy crap, look at what I'm doing, mommy" smile. The range for 3-yos is impressive. Figure that Juliette was just in a 3-yo class last autumn, and there's little Ilsa, just turned three in December. She didn't know what was going on for most of class, but she loved galloping across the floor. Goofy girl.

Juliette's class followed, a full 45 minutes of pre-school inattention. Really, these ladies need to up the discipline or anarchy will reign next week. Maybe they'll feel free to be a bit stricter with the parents out of the room. However, this is only the teacher's second session, so I hold little hope for improvements.

My girl Juliette is a thug and an incitement to riot. In second position -- hands and legs out wide -- she made to grab the hands of the girls nearest her. When crossing the floor, no matter if they were supposed to be frog jumping or walking on tiptoes -- Juliette RAN. "I win!" *headhands* And of course, when one girl starts to make it a race... well, technique fell away in favor of speed.

Then came the skipping. Some girls can skip by this age, while others cannot. Put Juliette in the latter category, which she must share with elephants trying to skip. I tried to work with her, a sort of skip tutoring session yesterday morning, but no go. She's just not ready yet. Worse still, when the teacher held her hand and tried to show her what to do, she said, "I can do it all by myself."

But what can I do? I can't very well storm across the room and demand that she be more respectful to her teacher and listen. My anxieties about school increase. Nobody will be ready for my Juliette.

Today -- our first pre-school music class. We missed the first actual class last week because of illness. Here's hoping for a better day than yesterday.

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