When I was a kid, I wanted to take gymnastics.
My mom signed me up for a class that covered ballet, tap and gymnastics. She even drove me downtown for it.
I wanted nothing to do with the tap and ballet portions (though I did like the shoes involved), I just wanted to tumble around and launch myself off the end of a balance beam. I’m quite sure I remember complaining to my mother. And that was the end of classes of any sort.
Nora is starting to show an interest in dance classes.
Here are the reasons I would sign her up:
- She wants to do it
- Builds strength and coordination
- Helps her understand the importance of practice when developing a skill
- Tires her out
Here are the things that worry me:
- The class will be too serious and strict
- Being in the class with other tiny dancers will cause body image issues to arise that she doesn’t currently have
These are big concerns for me. Right now, the cons are outweighing the pros.
I want Nora to have a childhood. Yes, it’s fantastic to develop a skill when you’re young. And the only way to make a career of something like dance, music or sports is to start early. But does it mean becoming a tiny adult?
This week, the Oregon Ballet Theater is having rehearsals in a downtown park, so the public can watch. Yesterday, we sat at a table and watched some beautiful, impossibly thin dancers twirl about. Nora stayed and watched with her wonderful nanny, Gemela. Shortly after I left, one of the ballerinas fell and twisted her ankle. Gemela reports that the first thing the dancer did was apologize.
This is worrisome. It’s not the sort of emotional intelligence I wish for Nora. I never want her to feel the need to apologize for accidentally injuring herself!
It seems that children wrapped up in the world of sports and dance run the risk of sacrificing emotional intelligence to the competitive spirit. And I’m just not down with that.
Of course, I am probably overdramatizing and overthinking again. I have no experience in the world of dance or sports.
I just keep picturing the Emilio Estevez character from the Breakfast Club and how screwed up he was from the pressure of the wrestling world. There are countless examples from Hollywood. I know, because I spent my childhood watching movies and television instead of in dance class or on the soccer field.
Help me out on this one, folks. Do your kids take dance or gymnastics? How is it going?