I just returned from a preschool dance recital. My roommate is a nanny and I have often visited her at work and played with the children on days when I’m not working (the parents are okay with this by the way). Sadly, since my niece and nephew are in Indiana, time with these children is some of the most contact I have with ankle-biters and knee-huggers. So, when the opportunity to actually go to a dance recital came about, I eagerly jumped at the chance. (and, I just need to get out of the house sometimes you know)
There are three distinct groups of preschool dancers. A) the serious, trying to hard to impress mommy and daddy because this is the only attention I will get all week dancers, B) the silly “I’m in my own world,” dancers, and C) the “NO!” I’m not going to do it dancers. This group appeared to have 3-5 year olds but since this was not the first recital, so group C was not represented this time around.
I went to see Sara dance. Sara will be 4 in August, and enthusiastically represented group B. She truly enjoyed herself. I was amazed that kids that young could pay attention for an hour’s worth of dancing, so I was not surprised that Sara would occasionally get wrapped up in spinning or twirling and her mind would wander off. Then suddenly, she’d snap to and giggle and get back in line and start watching the teacher again. The teacher gets an award for patience, because at any given time, only two of the fifteen girls were doing anything at the same time. Sara had a great time and she was a joy to watch.
Group A was difficult to watch. There were at least three girls who were so serious about doing everything perfectly that they didn’t smile the entire time. This made me sad. It’s sad to think that something so fun can be serious (for whatever reason) for a child so young. Group B and Group C parents are easy to spot in the crowd. They are either laughing at their twirlers or somewhere between amused and embarrassed at the constant, “NO!” and lack of dancing. Group A parents are tough to spot. The Group A girls are so serious about getting everything right so their parents (if they were there) would be proud of them… that they really didn’t take their eyes off the teacher to make eye contact with their parents.
Ah, the parents. Most of the parents there had just come from work (you know, high end jobs) and most of the moms in attendance appeared to be working moms. Parents and a few grandparents lined the back of the room with sophisticated cameras and video equipment. What struck me was how many parents kept looking at their watches and how many of them were late. Most of the late parents came in the door with bouquets of roses for their little ballerinas. I wonder if they were late because of the flowers and I wonder if they would have bought the flowers if they knew how excited their kids would be just because they showed up.
Now not all parents are that way — Sara’s parents have been careful not to spoil her (too much-ha). She, unlike many of the others, did not get a new outfit to dance in each week. Sara danced in the same leotard all semester. Sara did not get a dozen roses after the recital, but a single rose (from her nanny) and a tiny bouquet of purple flowers (from her mommy) that one of her baby sisters quickly dismantled. I was flabbergasted at all the flowers to tell the truth. I was in high school before I got a single rose from anybody… well, that’s not counting all the dandelions my little brother used to bring me from the yard. I started thinking, “What will these girls have to look forward to?” and also wondered what they would think when a boy approached them when they were 16 with a single daisy. Will they be disappointed? After all, at 3 years old, they got a dozen roses.
I’ve seen some of these kids birthday parties, too. After attending one three year old’s birthday party a few years ago (that included a 7′ Pooh that scared all the kids, a moon walk on their front lawn (and the permits from the city to shut the street down so there would be ample parking) and party favors for each attendee that cost at least $10 each – for over 20 three year old guests) I turned to the father and asked, “So, what are you going to do when he’s 16? Buy him a Lexus and have his favorite rock group over for a party?” He shrugged his shoulders and pointed to a little boy who was running around punching the other kids. “His party was last week,” he sighed, “and he had a petting zoo in his yard, a clown, and a juggler. I wasn’t sure how to top that.” Sad… very, very sad.
These are also the same preschoolers who have TV/VCR combos in their rooms, CD players and enough toys to fill FAO Schwartz. I got my first tape recorder/radio combo when I was 12 and I had to buy it. I had a TV (black & white and there was no remote) in my room when I was 14, but that was only after my appendix burst and I almost died and I had to stay in bed a lot (and my grandfather bought it). For my birthday last year, a friend of mine sent me some Gerbrera daisies for my birthday and I was so thrilled. I was in my mid to late twenties before I had most of the appliances that these kids take for granted and they aren’t even 5 yet! No wonder kids turn to drugs and sex and other horrible things to get that next high. Their parents set them up for it, yet these parents are the ones who are surprised when little Cindy gets arrested for alcohol possession at 14.
Oh, I could go on and on. Sometimes I wonder why people have kids if they don’t want to raise them… but that’s another blog entry.