I have realized lately that having children has definitely changed me, one area being my ability to deal with confrontation when necessary. But, this post is really about an experience we had recently due to the fact my children are not all the same gender. So, the twins had their first dance class this week. We’ve done gymnastics mommy and me classes but this was their first “real” class experience. They’ve been over the moon excited, and I found it’s a bit more difficult to find dance gear for toddler boys, which is ridiculous, I mean, boys dance too. Hello, heard of Mikhail Baryshnikov?! Anyway, they have both literally been counting down the days until class started.
We arrived, and the instructor immediately accosted me at the door and informed me I wasn’t “allowed” in the class, at all. I had not been told this previously and was a little taken aback the instructor didn’t even introduce herself before demanding I leave immediately, but I talked to my kids and, being the super confident little people they are, they had zero problems joining their new friends sans Mama while I waited outside the door with my mom. I peaked in the door windows often, hello, this was their first class and I wasn’t exactly impressed with the instructor’s less than friendly attitude. But, they were having fun, Arabella was listening like a precise machine and frankly I was amazed how fantastic my energetic little son did as well, especially considering this was their VERY first structured class experience and without mommy too! I mean, he was LISTENING, and sitting still…!
Anyway, class got out, and the instructor comes up to me and starts informing me, right in front of the twins, (can you tell I’m still a little annoyed!) that Arabella did just beautifully, so very well (and she did!) but, and in a very indignant tone, that Harry had listening problems and was all over the place. (which he was NOT). She then immediately proceeded to inform me I wasn’t allowed to look in at the class, that my son had seen me every time and was saying my name. Ok, first of all, lady, were you born yesterday that you feel the need to deride my son while praising my daughter, RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM?! Also, sorry, but you’re teaching a class called Dancin Dumplins (not even dancING dumplINGS) for three year olds at a REC CENTER, hardly a prima ballerina class at a New York conservatory, thus, not exactly the place to give me some kind of big attitude. AND ALSO, if you have a problem with energetic little boys maybe you shouldn’t be teaching a gender neutral class!!!!!
In the past, I would have frozen and not been able to reply, and then hated myself afterwards for it. But, motherhood, well, it’s given me balls ya’ll. I IMMEDIATELY (yes, I’m proud of my quick response) informed her, (while smiling and in a polite tone!), that A. this was Harry’s FIRST EVER class and he had done extraordinarily well, THEY BOTH HAD. And B. that I didn’t know her from Adam and absolutely no way was I not watching the class my tiny little children were in, and if she tried to speak this way to me again we would not be back.
Despite my fury, I kept a calm demeanor, and my words must have gotten my point across as she shut up immediately and physically backed off. I am not a paranoid person, nor am I a super controlling one. However, I don’t care how many years someone has been teaching class you better believe I will be observing how they treat my children until they have earned my trust. I was a teacher for yearrrssss and I would never expect a parent to trust me until I had personally earned it from them. Especially a casual class like this, this wasn’t exactly a certified school facility in which class is controlled and observed. And lady, you aren’t going to treat my children preferentially due to their opposing gender. Seriously, don’t. even. try.
I talked to Harry and Arabella afterwards. This is one of the reasons I believe communication as a parent is so important, I know they will tell me if anything made them feel uncomfortable. They loved most of all meeting new friends (they’re insanely social!). We may go back, we may find a different class. But if we do go back, and I see her do one thing to make them uncomfortable, I will walk in there and pull them out. I will not tolerate my son being treated more harshly because he is a young and energetic boy, just as I will not tolerate my daughter ever experiencing bias against her gender. I will continue protecting them until they are old enough to protect themselves. And you know, I have them in this CASUAL class to have fun, and to see if they love dance class or just dancing. Should either of them decide they want to do this seriously, I will find a serious dance class. In the meantime, I’ll just be over here sharpening my mama bear claws to protect my children, regardless of their gender and energy level.