I was up before the sun for registration, determined to make it into our preferred class. I had packed snacks and water the night before. It was like I’d been training for this moment my whole life every time I tried desperately to get tickets for a concert.
I fought back visions of my three-year-old daughter being crushed that she couldn’t go to dance class. I mean, she’d only talked about it every single day all summer long. No pressure.
Once I had confirmation we’d made the class, I let out the breath I’d been holding for three months. We were in! Did it feel this good when I got into university? Maybe. I was exhilarated.
The dance school announced they’d be doing fittings in their store that same afternoon, so we excitedly went over to purchase tights — and, mostly, to bask in the glory that we’d gotten in. I planned on sewing a leotard for Charlotte, but I wanted to know what sort of style was required.
Of course, there was a whole rack of leotards, and I couldn’t resist making her try one on. Just for sizing purposes, so I could decide what I was going to sew. I had no sooner tugged up the straps when I felt myself melt at the sight of my very own teeny, tiny ballerina.
She was like a figurine in a music box. The pale pink footless tights. The fitted black leotard with a scoop neckline, strappy back and delicate puffed sleeves. It was too perfect. Here, take my money. Oh, you already have my credit card on file from registration? Perfect. Even better. We must have it all!
We had a full month to wait until the first class, but it went quickly during the back-to-school madness as Charlotte started preschool and her brother, Dexter, started primary. We talked about “dance class with Miss Mah-wissa” more and more as we got closer to the big day, and I even wrote out a countdown calendar so she could cross off the days with wobbly marker scrawls.
Then, somehow, it was the night before class started and our leotard hadn’t arrived. Wait, what? We had the pale pink footless tights, but nothing to go on top. I felt my first twinge of Dance Mom Panic.
Now, here’s what you need to know about Dance Mom Heather. She is shriller than Cheer Mom Heather (although less anxious), and she’s way more uppity than easygoing Soccer Mom Heather. Dance Mom Heather is certainly more excitable than T-ball Mom Heather, who tried to hide in the dugout and sketch until practice was over.
Dance Mom Heather is a different beast, charging around with visions of pale pink tights and open-backed leotards and smooth hair-sprayed buns. Dance Mom Heather wants it all to be PERFECT!
Dance Mom Heather is also not at all reasonable. Charlotte had half a dozen gymnastics outfits I’d made for her, and she could have worn any of those. She could have worn a tank top and leggings. She could have worn just about anything to that first class, and it would have been fine.
But no, no, no. I stayed up very late sewing a little black bodysuit with a low back. The elastic bunched, the neckline was uneven, and the whole thing was a tad too short. I walked into the studio feeling a little pouty at our missing (totally beautiful) leotard. For once, Charlotte wasn’t supposed to be in a handmade piece with loose threads and wonky hems. For once, she was supposed to be in the perfect store-bought dance clothing.
The little girls were name-tagged and whisked into a bright studio with mirrors and lights, and I crowded around the window with the other parents to watch. From across the room, you could barely tell which little girl belonged to you. They all had white or pink tights and none of them had exactly the same bodysuit (although most were varying shades of black) and they were perfect. All of them.
They hopped like bunnies and leapt like frogs and jumped onto paper circles dotted around the studio floor. They laughed and ran and floated like tiny butterflies to the music. The parents murmured about how adorable they all were, and we laughed over the fact that we couldn’t tell if it was a window or a two-way mirror (a question solved when my daughter waved merrily at us).
It was over too soon, and our little ballerinas burst out of the studio excitedly showing us their stickers. They had gotten the full big-girl dance class experience, after waiting all summer for their big day, and their cheeks with flushed with pride and excitement.
The leotard is on backorder, I think, but I don’t mind anymore. The neckline on the one I made isn’t that wonky and Charlotte doesn’t seem to mind the bunchy elastic. She is just so, so excited for her next class, and so am I.
If my inner Dance Mom pipes up again about perfection, I’m going to tour jeté her in the face.