I could see her signing up her daughter, Lola, for art class at the Y or Little Ninjas at the Y or Little Guppies at the Y, but ballet at a dance school? This was unexpected.
“Get ready to spend the big bucks,” I warned. I have no personal experience with professional dance schools, really, other than taking my three-year-old to Miss Dawn’s Militant Dance Class for Preschoolers, but I had heard the horror stories.
No matter what school parents chose for their children, they all seemed the same. They all cost a fortune to enroll in, participation in the year-end recital is mandatory and multiple costume changes for the big day are required.
All of that was enough to keep me away, but when my sister signed my niece up for Shining Stars Dance Academy, I got the inside scoop on the little kids’ dance world. Although this place took adults too. That, I discovered when my little niece had her 12-hour marathon dance recital. We had to sit through every single class of grade school kids, middle-aged women and seniors all in body-hugging leotards before they brought on the real stars – the toddlers. That’s what we were there for.
And, when after the fifth hour I didn’t think I would make it, my sister handed me a cracker and a water bottle and told me that should sustain me for the next several hours.
I did survive, but I vowed never again. Never again.
Then, when Jackie, my friend, said she had enrolled her daughter, I wondered, hadn’t she heard? Didn’t she know the grueling road that lay ahead? I wanted to shout, “Save yourself!” And, I did in so many words, but she said she had done her research, visited several schools and decided on one that fit her budget and her values. Her school only required one costume for the recital. She said (and I didn’t even know this) ticket sale policy was a big factor in the decision-making process – for her at least.
I knew schools distributed a certain, limited number of tickets per pupil, but what I didn’t know was that select, judgement-impaired parents will camp out over night in the dance academy’s parking lot to be first on line when the school’s box office opens. This happens so frequently that some schools have implemented rules prohibiting parents from entering the parking lot before 6 am for the 7 am ticket sale frenzy. Even with this rule parents have found a way to ensure they get there first and buy up tickets for all the members of their extended family. These driven parents have started parking in lots across the street from the schools. They drive up around 3 am and just wait until the school’s lot opens three hours later.
Jacky’s school did not allow for any of this. They equitably disseminated tickets and never had any dealings with 3 am ticket lines. She had indeed done her homework. This was good because I’d hate to see her camping out on Bloomfield Avenue at 3 am while I was heading home to bed after a night out.
Would you do it? What have you done for your child?