Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A difficult decision

We came to a difficult decision this week. After 4 years (well, really 3.5 years since she took off a semester last year) of dance, Reece will not be returning to ballet in the fall. This was an especially hard thing for me to handle because it feels like a failure, even though I knew from the first day of her ballet class that this point was going to come eventually.

Dance class can be hard for a child with autism. There's music, and on top of the music is a teacher giving you auditory instruction. Then there are girls around you who might be talking. There is a big mirror that can be very distracting. And that's not even taking into consideration the ballet moves themselves which can be very challenging. I didn't realize exactly how challenging until I started ballet myself last fall.

Until this year, Reece was fairly oblivious to her differences. During her first two years of dance, I would often peek in through the window and find her licking the big wall mirror. It was horrific. I talked to her dance teacher about what we should do, and she said, "Stop looking in the window!" LOL

Last year during the move up from preschool ballet to the primary level, Reece struggled significantly. We ended up dropping out for a semester, but she re-joined her class after the Christmas holidays. It was a delightful year, and she absolutely loved the recital for the first time. But her teacher suggested having her repeat the same level of class the following year, since she was still having a really hard time with the barre work.

So we began in a new class, with new girls. And these girls hadn't grown up with Reece since they were 3-4 years old, and they were not very accepting of her differences. In fact, some of them were quite mean. Reece cried a lot. It was hard to bring her to class every week. But then the whole forgiveness thing happened with the girl who was causing the most trouble, and they became immediate "BFFs". Reece loved going to ballet again!

But the other aspects of the class were not getting any better. She looked completely out of place even among girls who are 2 years younger than she is. The time had finally arrived, and really only a year before the age where I knew she wouldn't be able to keep up. I've seen Riley progress through all these levels, so I know what is expected from the girls at each level.

Our recital is this weekend. I am extremely sad. Honestly, I just want it to be over. If I could go to sleep tonight and wake up on Monday and have it be over, I would do so in a heartbeat! I'm tired of everything being so hard for my kids. I'm going to be backstage mom again so I can be there to handle anything that might happen. I hate that I have to be.

One last picture of this year's costume... the photographer said, "One - two - three - say I'm a chicken!" and she replied, with the smile still on her face, "I am not a chicken." LOL Both her dance teacher and I were happy though because the first or second year of dance when the photographer tried to say something like that, she burst into tears.

She's definitely not a chicken... she's a very brave girl! She's going to be on stage on Sunday! :)


Chef Penny said...

She is a brave girl and you are a brave mama! (((((hugs))))))

The Glasers said...

Aw . . . now don't go making me cry! You and Reece are so brave. The truth and doing the right thing hurts sometimes!

Penny said...

You both are brave, Jen! I pray that this door closing for now opens up a bigger door for the two of you!

poohder said...

I am trusting that this is just temporary or that at least you can see the positive benefits she gained by taking dance.

Prince Andrew and the Queen Mum said...

ditto on the bravery. for continuing to try..for knowing when enough was enough and helping Reece through that. t