Just when I thought I didn't have anything to write a story about, I had this little episode with my kids today. It's more or less verbatum.
“I’d like to sign up for the children’s dance classes,” said Monica to the petite woman at the desk. Sophia and Max clung closer to Monica’s legs.
The HQ for the Loudon Dance Academy was a bright cheery set of rooms in the back of the mini-mall. Cute little pixies were clomping in their tap shoes to a wood-paneled studio. Shortly after a sound system began playing “Big Girls Don’t Cry.” Monica brightened visibly. There were no Stepford-wife stage-mothers in the lobby, only a normal looking woman in sweatpants reading Harry Potter.
The woman behind the desk, in a leotard and legwarmers smiled prettily at Monica, who tried to look confident.
“For both children?” asked the woman.
Monica shook her head. “No, only Sophia. Max doesn’t like dancing.”
Sophia squealed and began to bounce-up and down.
“It’s my birthday present! I’m four years old!” she cried.
Five-year-old Max looked up at his mother with a hurt expression.
“But I want to dance!” he moaned.
“What?” cried Monica in exasperation. “Since when?”
“Since always!” retorted Max.
“But this is Sophie’s birthday present, remember? You wanted to have swimming lessons!” explained Monica patiently.
Max’s face crumpled up.
“Uh-oh. Here it comes,” muttered the woman at the desk.
“BUT I DON’T WANT SWIMMING LESSONS!!!” bawled Max, rattling the plate-glass windows.
Panicking, Monica gently popped a hand over Max’s mouth and encouraged him to sob into her coat to muffle his noise. She handed the woman the form she’d printed off and filled out with a check paper-clipped to the top.
“Alright, you’re all set,” said the woman, with a sympathetic smile. She’d seen tantrums like this before, most likely.
“Does she need any equipment?” asked Monica.
“We have ballet shoes and tap shoes over here,” said the woman, motioning to a cabinet. While Sophie tried to stay still long enough to try on the ballet slippers, Monica pulled Max aside to talk to him.
“Mmmmm?” Max looked the picture of misery, his face red and blotchy from his tears as he tried to reign in the desire to scream and throw a tantrum.
“Honey, the reason I didn’t sign you up for dancing lessons is because you don’t like dancing. You never dance at home to music. Your teachers say you won’t dance in class either.”
“But I WANT to!” wailed Max again, grasping Monica’s coat for more emphasis.
“If you want dance lessons, you have to SHOW me you love dancing, Maxie. When we get home, lets try dancing to music a little, okay? In a few months we’ll see if you still want to dance.”
Max didn’t answer. He merely flopped onto the floor like a dead sea-star and refused to move.
While he lay there, Monica finished paying for new shoes and a leotard and prepared to leave.
“Do I have to wait until I’m a girl?” asked Max’s voice behind her.
Monica turned to look at her son, now upright again. She stifled a laugh. “You don’t have to be a girl. Boys can dance too. You just have to like dancing.”
“But I LIKE it!”
“Show me. Then we’ll see,” said Monica plainly. A thought suddenly occurred to her. “I’ll talk to Daddy about this,” she said.
Monica smiled to herself as the woman gave her the pink bag full of Sophie’s new things.
After trying to foster a love of dance in her son for five years with no success, she’d overlooked the power of blind envy. This might just be the carrot Max needed. She fervently hoped this was the start of something good. A man in the dancing world could go far.
“Helloooooo, free college,” said Monica to herself.