I sat comfortably in my chair on the other side of the one-way mirror, ready for a good show. Ten little 3-year-old ballerinas started waving their hands and twirling around.
One did not.
Instead, this little ginger-haired child grabbed the front of her leotard, looked down at the floor and refused to move.
The teacher tried to coax her to join the group.
The wayward ballerina started sidestepping away from the circle, as the rest of the group flapped and wiggled. Pouty ballerina suddenly caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. She frowned. And then promptly stuck her pointer finger up her nose.
The mothers in the observation room all started to giggle. Except for me.
Because that was my nose-picking ballerina. My child was suddenly “that kid” who wouldn’t participate, distracted others and picked their nose. Yes indeed, a parents’ worst nightmare. Dreams of the New York City ballet (or a guest starring role on “Dance Moms”) shattered, I excused myself and went into the dance class.
“Catherine,” I hissed.
She looked over at me. Finger still precariously close to the nose. I gestured wildly for her to come over to me. And when she did, her face crumpled and she started to cry. I wasn’t sure if it was in preparation for a nose-picking reprimand or not. Then I heard the music.
It was the Chicken Dance.
“Kitty, why won’t you dance?” I asked.
“Because I DON’T KNOW THIS DANCE,” she sobbed.
Suddenly, another ballerina caught wind of the escalating Chicken Dance angst, and she started crying too. Another mom stormed into the room and I couldn’t even look at her – knowing that my child had started the sympathetic crying syndrome. (Sympathetic crying: The ritual of crying just because someone else is crying, not because you really feel bad or anything hurts. Much like the sympathetic wee-wee, which is wanting to go potty just because someone else does)
I was bewildered at her behavior. This is my third child. Catherine goes happily to preschool three mornings a week. She strikes up conversations with strangers. She can belt out Katy Perry songs on the karaoke machine. She never met a mirror she didn’t like.
Perhaps it was the goofy, polka beat of the Chicken Dance that cast some kind of scary spell. The flapping arms and behind shaking can silly. Believe me, I’ve had some scarring Chicken Dance experiences myself. And one involved dancing with someone’s old uncle and a few too many Tom Collins.
But for a three year old, the Chicken Dance should be the most amazing fun ever! Not for my ballerina. She barely could finish class. I hoped that next week would be better.
It wasn’t. She did get through the first fifteen minutes, but it all fell apart again after the Chicken Dance. Thankfully, no nose picking this time. I had to bribe/threaten her to stay in class. And kept repeating, “You’re really having fun!”
We’ll give it one more shot next week. But perhaps she’s just wise beyond her years.
The Chicken Dance really does stink.