Bean started taking ballet a few weeks ago. They call it ‘Princess Camp’ and she loves it. There’s a 45 minute dance lesson, followed by watching a part of a princess ballet (they’re doing Sleeping Beauty now), and arts and crafts time. It seemed like the perfect thing, since she’s into princesses and she’s been begging me (of all people) to teach her how to be a ballerina.
She loved the first lesson and couldn’t wait to go back. After the second though she wanted to quit. This morning we’re scheduled to have the third. I spent all week trying to get out of her what the problem is, and I’ve figured out that it’s the teacher. She’s a 17-year old and she does most of the toddler classes.
Apparently, the teacher yells. And she expects the 4-yr olds to do exactly what she says when she says it. Bean tries hard to follow directions, but she doesn’t always understand them. So now – even at home – she’s started responding with “I don’t know” when I ask her if she did something wrong. I can ask why her little brother is crying, did she take a toy away from him, why is she crying, did she understand me when I told her to get dressed… And her stock response now is “I don’t know.” And then she cries. And all of this just in the last week.
I peeked in the window at the class last week – just long enough to see her getting into trouble for not following directions that she didn’t understand. And being yelled at. It broke my mommy heart. And she was trying so hard! So now, I’m about to throw her back into the pack of wolves. Granted, I’ve tried to give her some coping skills, like what to say when she doesn’t understand. And we’ve had the talk about knowing who she is and who loves her – and not getting upset when a silly teenage ballet teacher says something mean.
But I’m conflicted. A part of me wants to march in there, tell them they’re treating children unreasonably. Another part of me wants to approach the teenage teacher and have a heart to heart with her. The bigger part of me wants to remove her from class. But what would that teach her? So off we go. Lunch packed, we’re headed to ballet class for Bean to be verbally pummeled into submission again.