Continued from a previous post…..
I hate being the new mom. I sat down on the benches outside of the dance studio by myself, looking through the one-way mirror at my son transform into a dancer.
A mother and daughter came running up the benches and dropped their bags next me. They were late. The mother started to hastily change her daughter out of her light-up sneakers and into her ballet shoes. As the little girl held onto the bench for balance she caught site of C.J.
“Look at the new girl! Why is her hair so short!?” she asked loudly.
The mother looked up.
“I don’t know, honey, some girls just like to have their hair really short like a boy,” she replied.
“That’s my son,” I said quietly to the mother. Her face turned 15 shades of red as she confirmed to her daughter that she had been right; the new girl in dance class was a boy. The mother hurried her daughter in the studio and did not return to her seat next to me. It’s okay, we are used to being the elephant in the room.
My eyes were glued to C.J. I had never seen him happier, more focused. Finally, he was a dancer. My heart was melting, yet again, for my sweet gender creative boy.
After the break, during which the kids metamorphosed from ballet dancers to tap dancers with a simple change of shoes, one of the other mothers had no choice but to sit next to me. I decided to get friendly.
“How old is your daughter?” I asked, startling her.
“She’s five. How old is your…..little….guy,” she asked nervously gripping her Starbucks for safety. Is a boy in a tutu and ballet shoes in an all-girls dance class still a boy?
“He’s going to be five next month,” I said with a smile. Apparently there was nothing else to talk about. A mom behind me tapped my shoulder.
“I think it’s so great that your son’s taking dance. My little girl in there has a twin brother and I never even thought to ask him if he wanted to try it,” she said.
“Thanks,” I smiled sincerely.
An advanced adult ballet class started in the studio next door. I was watching the graceful grown ballerinas and thinking about Black Swan and Natalie Portman and her baby and if she would be at the Golden Globes after retreating from Hollywood with her dreamy ballerina man. A man entered that class late. He set his bags down and stripped down to skin-tight black leggings and a tight, deep v-neck. He found a place on the bar. Oh my. Okay. I get it. Dancers are good looking. I watched him move, he was better than every woman in the room.
Before dismissal, each tiny dancer was given a coloring sheet as a reward for their hard work. It was a ballerina Hello Kitty. Miss. Milk-N-Honey asked if that was okay for C.J. I assured her that it was right up his alley.
C.J. and I took a few minutes to watch the adults dance next door. C.J. was enraptured.
“Do you see the boy dancing?” I asked, leaning down to his level and pointing as he spotted him.
“Wwwoooooooowwwwwwwww,” he said slowly. Oh yeah. He saw him. “Mommy, he’s better than the girls. I want to be like that.”
“You can,” I said.
In the car on the way home, I asked C.J. if he liked dance class.
“I. Tote-a-wee. Wuved it.”
The next class couldn’t come soon enough. C.J.’s raced me to Miss. Milk-N-Honey. He was a man, in tights, on a mission. Like a super hero, but different.
“Miss. Milk-N-Honey. Today I’m gonna wear my skirt again to class. Can you pwease tell the girls not to make fun of me?” he said in speech so clear and premeditated that I couldn’t believe it came out of his mouth.
“Oh, sweetie, sure,” Miss. Milk-N-Honey said, looking loving and concerned.
I couldn’t say anything; there was a lump in my throat. C.J.’s Dad walked up the stairs then.
“Ohhhh, I feel like I’m on Dance Moms,” he said as he entered the studio, saw the parents’ seating area, grabbed as seat next to me and put his arm around me. My macho husband makes me smile regularly.
“She’s no Abby Lee Miller,” he said upon glimpsing Miss. Milk-N-Honey.
“Alright, settle down,” I said without looking at him, all eyes on C.J.
Class started and C.J. was crab walking across the wood floor.
“We need to work on getting his butt up during the crab walk,” C.J.’s Dad said softly. If C.J. were playing t-ball, he’d be taking similar mental notes, thinking of ways to help C.J. improve. I love this man for being passionate and interested in the things that speak to C.J.’s soul: “gender traditional” or not. I don’t tell him enough that it takes a big man to lovingly-father a girly boy. He’s proof that a bully can be reformed.
“Are boy ballerinas called ‘ballerinos’,” C.J.’s Dad interrupted my thought.
C.J.’s Dad and I took turns watching C.J.’s Brother practice parkour in the main gym downstairs. We were afraid to leave C.J. upstairs alone by himself and afraid of what the other parents might gossip about when we weren’t around. We know we shouldn’t care, but we do. We’re working on it.
Class was ending and it was time for coloring sheets. Miss. Milk-N-Honey brought out two options to choose from: SpongeBob SquarePants and Princess Jasmine. Options. Options are good. C.J. went straight for Princes Jasmine. Miss. Milk-N-Honey smiled at me and acknowledged that with a boy in the class she felt like she should have a boy coloring sheet to choose and, even better, that she never considered that one of the girls might want a “boy” coloring sheet.
Three cheers for Miss. Milk-N-Honey! She turned and walked away and I read the back of her shirt.
“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.”
I grabbed C.J.’s little hand and his tutu and his tap shoes and we went, with all our heart.