Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Dance class

I promised a post about child number one's dance class. It is a Parks and Recreation Department sponsored pre-ballet class for 3-5 year olds. You sign up for it on a monthly basis. One afternoon a week for four weeks. The classes themselves are 45 minutes long. Standard dress (not explained to you beforehand however) is leotards, tights, and ballet shoes. To make my life easier, I've arranged a play-date for child number two to coincide with the class so I only have to deal with the four-year old and the baby at the dance class. Those are the technical details.

The first day of class we show up early and there is another class in session already. I had trouble convincing my daughter that it wasn't her class and that she had to wait. When it was time for her class a new teacher arrives and acts like the students know what they need to do at the start of class. I go to talk to the teacher, since I have a new student for her and realize that all the other little girls are dressed in dance clothes like they knew ahead of time what they were supposed to wear. I found out that this is actually a substitute for the regular teacher who is out sick and my daughter just needs to take off her shoes and dance in her socks for this class.

It seemed to go well at first considering that child number one was so hyped up she was literally bouncing everywhere. She kept forgetting to listen to the teacher because she was just so excited to be in a dance class. This however was fairly common among the girls (about 15 in number). One girl in particular was a more extreme case, and I probably would not have enrolled her in the class if she were my child. She was more interested in running around the room than participating in any of the class. But, maybe her parents are trying to teach her to focus better. The reason I mention her comes up later. They were practicing ballet moves to music with simple routines where they changed the activity about every five minutes. They also threw in some modern dance moves including the chicken dance of all things. It looked to me that about a two thirds of the girls knew what they were doing and a third knew it well enough that they looked like they had done it a lot. It dawned on me that I had assumed that the class was a beginning class and then they move on. In actuality, the students are signed up month after month so that this is actually a small segment of a long term class. The students move on after the teacher tells the parent that they are both the right age and are ready for the next level class.

My daughter's experience was marred on that first day when she was paired up with the little girl who just wanted to run wild. The other girl didn't want to hold hands like she was supposed to and broke free to run around. My daughter couldn't cope with this strange situation and was chasing the other little girl trying to get her back until she crumpled into tears and the teacher's assistants had to help her find me in the crowd of parents. She was horribly distraught that she had lost her partner. It took a while to calm her down and refocus her attention on the class, the fact that they were not doing partners anymore, and that she could still do the class. She went back to it and was doing OK until something happened between her and the other girl (her former partner) that made her cry again and have to come back to me. She calmed down and was finally able to finish the class. I noticed that the other girl's parents had taken their daughter home early. I had thought that my daughter had learned a few things and enjoyed the actual dancing, but the only thing she could talk about later was that she lost her partner.

The second dance class went better. This time my daughter was in the proper dance attire. The regular teacher was there. She started the class with introductions. She was much more take-charge and knew how to handle the loose cannon child (yes the other little girl was back, my daughter's nemesis). This time there was no partner time to upset things. But, my child did have to come for consoling at one point when she was told to get to the back of a line, when she thought she was next. Other than that there were no problems and she was practicing dance moves with the rest.

The third dance class has been the best so far. My daughter didn't need any consoling. She paid attention to the teacher more. She was distracted less. The teacher told me that she is improving each time (which I have seen). The teacher suggested work at pointing the toe more and a goal for my daughter is to learn to move gracefully. From my observation, my daughter tends to move quickly and with jerky motion. If she slowed down some, the motions could be smoothed out and made graceful.

The fourth class will be next Tuesday. I've begun to think that this class (which was a reward for improvement with potty times) is a good thing that needs to be continued--both because my daughter is showing definite interest in dance, and because it will help her learn not only dance but listening skills, focus, repetitive practice, balance, graceful motions, and exercise. However, I've been delaying rejoining my MOPS (mothers of preschoolers) group since it occurs on the same day of the week. Whereas dance class is good for my oldest daughter, MOPS is good for me and both daughters. It has age-appropriate christian preschool-style playtime which is good for them. But, since I am carting around a now six week old baby, one big event a day is hard enough to manage. I am going to rejoin the MOPS group after this fourth and final class, because I see a greater good in it. But, I am also considering doing the dance class some more when MOPS isn't in session. And once the baby is older I may consider two big events in a day as manageable again.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Life is getting better

OK, it's been a while since I last posted. I've been busy with disasters. Well... little disasters. The same day child number one was supposed to start her new dance class, the person who was going to watch child number two, called to say she had two kids with high fevers. I woke up that morning with pink eye (not caught from anyone else, just spontaneous as a result of allergy problems). On the way to get medicine for my eyes (with three kids in tow), the front passenger window decided it wanted to slide mysteriously down into the door and hide from all the world. That was just one day. We got through it and child number one still got to go to dance class. We have since got the window repaired. We have had a lot of days like that in the past few weeks.

I'm feeling better now. The rain seems to be gone for a while, so we can get outside to walk every now and then. I still have the allergies, but they are toned down a bit since I can take some medicine for them now. Today we have the dance class again. No disasters have happened so far today. The trickiest part of the schedule is getting child number three's feedings to line up just right for our comings and goings.

I'm beginning to feel like being the mother of three kids is going OK. And, maybe, just maybe I'll be a good mom who can get dinner in the crock pot too. Our fruit trees are blooming. Our new grass seed is planted (my husband decided that the back lawn needed to be redone). We are just about ready to put in new pathways and a patio in our backyard. It feels like we are getting things accomplished again. Now I just have to find time to do the taxes.

The homeschooling is going well, although very casually. It is mainly reading, reading, reading, and more reading. Child number one is reading very well. She reads to herself in the bathroom (which has helped the potty times). She reads to her sister. She has any adult available read to her. In fact she has been reading some of this as I write it. Child number two has decided that she likes reading too. She also wants to be read to a lot. Besides that, there is lots of art work, crayons, colored pencils, pens, scissors, tape, drawing paper, construction paper, and all the things that you can make from them. We sometimes branch out and do some play dough time. I'm thinking that I may soon figure out how to get the easel out and get painting back into the schedule. However, that requires cleaning a counter so there is a place to dry the paintings. The girls are getting better about playing together and the oldest one is getting more independent. She is wanting to do a lot more things on her own (also a help with potty times). I can see now why people like to space their kids out a little more than we have. Having an older child is a big help when you have an infant. Today we all sat down together to entertain the baby while he was on his play mat. The girls are certainly learning about babies.

I am wanting to get the homeschooling a little more structured into our daily routines though. It isn't for the kids' sake, it is for my own. Clutter and chaos drive me nuts. I have come to terms with the fact that I can't have my entire life in order at once, but I like to try to have a few areas orderly so that I can function. It helps if those areas are the ones that we deal with every day. So far, after the baby's arrival, we have mealtimes, sleeptimes, and laundry somewhat in order. Now, I'm trying to get schooltime and shopping trips more manageable. I have come to the conclusion that we can't do a walk on the same day that we need to go somewhere. There is only so much flexibility in a five week old's schedule. Incidently, some of the neighbors have commented that we look like a parade when we are out for a walk. I don't doubt it what with the oldest child in a tricycle, the next in line in a jogging stroller, and the youngest in a front carrier on mommy. I look forward to the day when the youngest can go in the double stroller. It is hot and awkward to deal with the baby carriers.

Well, that's a lengthy post to make up for the time since the last one. Maybe, I'll describe the dance classes in the next one. They are noteworthy.