Tuesday, December 7, 2010

No One Gives My Kid A "Dressing Down"

My daughter takes ballet. She's been taking ballet at the same studio since our Mommy & Me days when she was just 2 1/2. Now at nearly 9, she loves it. Not enough to want to be a ballerina when she grows up, but enough to want to keep taking it for another year.

This year started with her being placed with the one instructor at the studio that I do not like. One, she has no formal training; she is a longtime student who stayed past the time that you can receive instruction so instead, the director of the studio hired her to teach. Two, she has an 18 month old boy that she is allowed to bring with her to work and whom is babysat by anyone who happens to be waiting for their child's class to be through. (I have successfully avoided the situation by always leaving for a coffee or burying my face in an old issue of People). Three, she is snotty to my daughter.

It began the first day of class. My daughter came bounding out of the room and when I asked "How'd you do?" "I did great. I loved it." Ms. K was quick to correct her. "Well, I don't think this is the class for her. She not quite at this level." Now, while I had to agree with her that she had been misplaced into a class with students at a more advanced level, I was appaled that after she heard the excitement in my daughter's voice that she would shoot her down to me, right in front of her. When we got in the car, she said, "Well, I tried my best." Not quite deflated, because that's not how she is, but not nearly as elated as she was earlier.

We started the new class which did turn out being better because there were girls she knew in the class. But two other mothers and myself quickly discovered that our monthly tuition was paying for "skipping and flitting" lessons and not ballet. There was no instruction taking place. They were learning routines which has little if any actual ballet technique in them. At this point in a young dancers life, with pointe only two years away, learning the proper technique as well as the French words for each should be mandatory. One mother spoke up for the group to the director and now the class begins with 10 minutes of barre work right off. And the class which had been starting anytime after she had played with her son, now starts at exactly 4pm.

Then came Halloween. They had prepared a dance for the parents. We were going to be a little late because my daughter had a dentist appointment. They were told to wear their costumes. My daughter wanted to be Darth Vader which everyone thought was very cool. That was except for Ms. K who said "Oh, um, Darth Vader. You're late." "Yes, my mom told Ms. A (director) I had a dentist appointment." "A-ha." And that was it, she didn't say "OK girls make some room at the barre." She let my daughter stand there in the middle of the room after mocking her (her tone was so snotty) for being late and coming dressed as Darth Vader (instead of a traditional 'girl' costume). Well, it took mere moments for my daughter to come back out of the class room and ask to put on her ballet uniform.

So here we are. The Christmas performance is this Sunday. They have prepared another dance for the parents. My daughter, in front of the entire class, was asked if she has a lavender skirt to wear to the recital. "This is a lavender skirt. It's just that it's reversible so it's not as dark as the others." "Well, can you get another one." "I don't know. But if I can't, can I still wear this." "I guess, but it's not as good." This whole conversation was replayed for me in the car on the way home. My daughter was embarrassed and she should not have been made to feel that way, certainly not in front of the class (and certainly not from a "ballet teacher" wearing sweatpants). In fact, if Ms. K really wanted to address my daughter's dress code she should have come to me, but the fact of the matter is, she was looking for another opportunity to mock my kid. I really believe that.

Why? My daughter is polite and helpful and tries her hardest. Plus she loves it. Why would you act like the mean girl/head cheerleader dressing down the nerd? Why would a person, seemingly an adult, do that to a child? Once, OK. Now it's three times. And that's just the ones I know of.

And can you guess who her favorites in the class are. The class cut-ups, acting like monkeys, screaming and running through the halls, and graceless to boot.

Needless to say, I shot an email to the director of the studio as soon as we got home. It read:

Would you happen to have a spare lavender skirt that my daughter can borrow for Sunday's performance. Apparently the one she has is not sufficient. Having said that, Ms. K should consider coming to me with questions of this nature instead of discussing it with my 8 year old in front of the whole class.

I'm sorry to be so short with you in this email. I've had my concerns about this class but Mother 1 and Mother 2 have already spoken with you of our mutual concerns and many positive changes have been made. I'm just a bit upset that my child, one that works hard, is helpful and polite (whereas others in her class are not) was embarrassed in front of her peers.

She called me immediately. Assured me that she would discuss the matter with Ms. K and that she had a skirt my daughter could borrow. Problem remedied. But situation not resolved.

Check the national news for "Ballistic Ballet Mom Slams Snotty Instructor".


  1. Good luck holding your corner. Hope things improve.

  2. Thank you, Anonymous.
    In a strange and still unsettling twist, I have to be out of state this weekend to visit family (see untitled post). My husband will be taking my daughter to her recital alone. It's killing me to miss it and she is very upset too but she's being brave. She understand why I must miss it.
    But, if I get reports of any problems from the weekend, you can bet Ms. K is going to get it from me! ;-)

  3. Hey, I am still alive ;) Lack of inspiration has kept from here. And even more lack of time has kept me from reading blogs. I loved your poem on my blog :)

    Good luck with Ms.K I am sensing jealousy on her part over your daughter. Or a possible control issue. Maybe she sees your daughter as a pushover and the others as the ones she cannot control so she lets them run wild and is being harsh to your child so she won't turn into a wild one.

    OR as odd as it may seem, maybe Ms.K sees potential in your daughter and is pushing her buttons to make her stronger and better so as not to become like the other girls. Knowing your daughter will take what she says to heart and work harder and become an even better dancer.

    Maybe....But if it persists, perhaps a one on one chat with Ms.K with the Lead Instructor present could be in order to get to the bottom of her issues with your daughter.

    Good Luck, Bonnie :)

  4. With the wacky weather last weekend, my only hope of getting out NH was to leave early. And the upside of missing out on a whole day with my cousins during this horrible time, was being able to attend the recital.

    Ms. K is not only just plain snotty, she's a lousy ballet teacher.

    Two days later, I informed the director that we would like to move to another class which she did gladly. My daughter starts in her new class in January.

    Now, as for you. Find a spare 10 minutes and write something. I guarantee it will make you feel better ;-)

  5. WHOO HOO! So glad your daughter gets to begin a new class! And I know she was very happy to have you at her recital :)

  6. Merry Belated Christmas to you and yours Bonnie! Our computer has once again died. I am so gonna throw it into traffic one day... So if you don't "hear" from me it's because I haven't been able to get to the library before it closes. Ha Ha, I feel like a child again!
    Happy New Year in advance. I am wishing you and your family the best 2011 EVER :)

  7. And the same you my dear friend, Wendy. All my best wishes for the blessing filled 2011.
    Speak with you soon.