This week I’m faced with two parenting dilemmas that I simply don’t have answers for. So I’m turning to you all, my parenting experts, for advice:
First of all, my 4-year-old daughter’s ballet recital is less than two weeks away. We’ve got the moves down, the music blaring and the costume ready. But the closer we get to the big day, the more she curls into an armadillo ball of fear. Let me preface this all by saying that last year, after much cajoling, she performed on stage at the recital with (virtually) no issues. Let me also say that I am by no means a stage mom. But the girl loves to dance; she’s good at it; she said she wanted to do the recital again this year; and it has already cost us a bundle.
Sooo, back to the problem at hand. As recital day approaches, my daughter has gotten more and more freaked out whenever she goes to her Saturday ballet class. One week, they moved all the tutu-ed little angels into another studio to practice so they get used to different atmosphere. My usually enthusiastic dancer stood stiffer than Lot’s wife. The following week, the teachers covered the mirrors with paper so the girls got used to dancing without seeing their beautiful selves reflected back at them. This also caused panic.
Now we’re mere days from performing and, to be honest, I don’t really want to put her – and us – through the trauma. She’s only 4. And she’s naturally shy. She doesn’t like strangers to take pictures of her (for class photos and such) or comment on her outrageous curls when we’re in public. As she once so clearly verbalized when she was a 2-year-old sprout, she really doesn’t “yike when dose people yook at me.”
So do I help her conquer her fears? Do I begin today preparing her for a life where performance, whether in school or at work, is a necessary evil? Or (and this is definitely the way I’m leaning at this point), do I avoid it all together and wait one more year before addressing her spotlight aversion?
OK, while you chew on that, here’s problem No. 2: My 7-year-old son has had some stomach issues of late. I won’t go into the details but, suffice it to say, it’s prompted us to take him to a pediatric gastroenterologist. The gastro wants us to get him tested for a number of things. This entails a blood test.
My son is not stoic. For years he couldn’t tell the different between a paper cut and a black eye. To him they were equally painful. While he absolutely loves sports, he’s the kid on the field who’d scream bloody murder when he fell and banged his knee. Other parents would gasp at the sound, thinking he’d broken a bone or worse. They’d glare at my husband and me for our seemingly nonchalant response – sauntering from the sidelines to his prone body to inspect what usually turned out to be a minor injury. To his credit, my son is always one to shake it off and get back on that horse. But the initial wounded-animal howl can be heart-stopping.
Need more anecdotes to get my point? When he was 4 and had to get his booster shots before school, he flipped out – turning into a red-faced, sweaty, violent mess – flailing at the nurses with such force, they eventually had to hold him down for his own safety.
I still haven’t recovered from that particular doctor’s visit.
So needle? Blood test? Sure, no problem. While you’re at it, let’s pull out some finger nails and pluck some eyelashes. Needless to say, I need some advice. Or, at the very least, a stand-in body double.