tripping the life unbalanced

Monday, January 22, 2007

let down

All of last year Alice couldn't wait to start ballet class. She would try on every little tutu dress/pink twirly skirt she could find and prance around our living room. She jumped and spun and told me she was one of the 12 dancing princesses. And I, still numb from the fact that this little person was indeed becoming very girly and was very much rejecting the jeans and black turtlenecks I laid out on her bed every morning, started to accept and perhaps even embrace the idea of Alice starting dance class. We signed her up at the local recreation centre, spent a week trying to track down all the necessary accessories (who would have guessed that locating a pair of pink size 11 ballet slippers in Toronto would be so hard?), watched patiently as she showed us her many dance moves in the week leading up to the first class, and gave ourselves a proud pat on the back for at least providing our daughter with some sort of extra-curricular activity. We were good parents.

(cough). You do know where this is going, don't you?

The day of the first class Alice and I stepped out into the bright Toronto winter day, one of the first days we were finally experiencing cold winter weather. We walked in the minus 20-with- the-windchill weather toward the recreation centre, Alice chattering away happily about what her class would be like. We arrived at the rec centre, cheeks cold and chapped from the wind, and ready to start a new journey. As we walked toward the room where the other preschoolers were, I thought about how much older Alice seemed these days.

(jesus Kate, enough with the preamble already).

As soon as we entered the class Alice became a different person. And I mean a different person. She gasped at the 7 other girls staring at her, turned around and hid her face against me. The ballet teacher was sweetly trying to convince her to join the group but she would have none of it. She refused to participate and started crying when it looked like I was leaving the room. I thought that maybe she was just a bit uncomfortable and that if I stayed a while in the room with her that sooner or later she would join in. But no. The whole class she stuck like glue to me, staring at the other children like they were monsters. I could not believe how scared she seemed. And they even did a fairy dance, which for Alice, should have been the end all. The fairy stuff, the princess shit - it truly is her crack. But yet she stayed on my lap, crying every time I tried to pry her off me. I tried every trick I knew to get her to join in, but she stood her ground.

I know, I know. Kids go through this all the time. They get shy and want their mommies - I get it. But really, REALLY, if you have ever met Alice in person you would know that she just has never exhibited much shyness in the past. This is the same kid at daycare who has never, since entering daycare at 11 months old, turned back and cried for me. Even after changing daycares and meeting many new kids over the years, Alice has never seemed like she had separation anxiety. And so I was surprised when she reacted this way.

The worst part, the very worst part, was after the class was over. I thanked the teacher for letting us sit in, and she tried to get Alice's attention to say goodbye. Again, it was like she was trying to pour acid all over Alice's face - she screamed and cried. And then I started to lose my patience.

I got angry and started thinking "well why the hell did we do this if you don't want to be here? Why did you make me come down here in the freezing cold just to be yelled at?" I'll admit it - it was a terrible reaction to have. I was impatient and not paying attention to my daughter's broken heart. I tried not to let her see my anger, but she could probably feel it.

As I got her dressed and we walked out of there, I realized that she was walking head down low and shuffling along sadly. I crouched down to look in her eyes and the saddest little girl looked up at me. She said in a very low voice "we should give those ballet slippers away because I'm never going to use them again." And my heart broke in two, right there in the freezing wind and in the middle of a bunch of other parents hustling by us to get their own kids to their cars. It hurt like nothing else has yet in my parenting experience with Alice. I've done illness and nightmares and even the beginning of terrible girl social hierarchies at daycare. And yet this was the absolute worst I have felt so far. She had wanted to dance so badly. She had waited for months to start this class. But she couldn't do it.

She had disappointed herself, and I was at a loss as what to do. How can you make that first disappointment go away? We all know that feeling - when you've waited and prepared for something that you really, truly believe is going to be your shining moment. And then at the last minute, things just don't go as planned and you feel like you've failed. That's what her little face was full of the whole walk home and I wanted to wrap a protective armor around her against hating herself.

Instead, I hugged her tightly and told her how great a second try can be. How sometimes new situations can be really scary and seem too difficult to deal with. And how mommies can also let themselves down when they want something really really badly.

I hope she believed me, I really do.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

prescriptions for plastics

Oh internet people, I have a dilemma. And once again I am turning online to lay my questions at your feet.

I am off on a business trip to Los Angeles soon and I need some advice - where to stay, what to avoid, how to look like I am having a good time? Which, to be honest, is difficult at the best times for me.

Hollywood, Burbank, L.A. West? It's a blur to me. A great big blur of tans and synthetics.

To rewind a bit, I'm heading out there for a business trip soon and would love any advice thrown my way. While I'm fairly well-versed on all things New York City, I'm afraid to say my L.A, speak is not so good. And in the world of the television industry, which pays my bills, those are the two cities that have their fingers on the remote, so to speak.

I already have Nadine on the case, and I know once Marla reads this her research finger will start itching as well. It's the best having friends who automatically reach for their laptops before you've even finished your sentence about taking a trip somewhere.

But I wanted to ask any of you who also have some advice to give - ummm...can you please give it to me already? Perhaps some of you mama bloggers have recently taken a trip to Hollywood and you want to share? Because I know how realistic that is.

Whatever you have people, c'mon already and shout it out. I'll need to arm myself with some knowledge ammo before taking on L.A. And my handy supply of Ativan, of course.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

just add a pinch of barbie

I should sleeping. I should be sleeping.

But instead, I'm up, catching up on some blogs. And when I came across this awesomeness at crazy mumma's site , I had to share.

I can't share this with Alice just yet, but sweet jesus the rest of you need to see it.

Monday, January 08, 2007

oh where oh where can this little bear be

The loss of a favourite toy can be devastating to a child. Especially if said child has slept with, traveled with, talked to, hugged and kissed the toy every day of her life since birth. It can be even more devastating to the parents, who first feel terrible that their child feels such pain. And then they feel even worse when they realise that their child needs - absolutely, unequivocally needs - the favourite toy to sleep. This is the stuff of nightmares, people.

We have some good friends - C&D - who are currently going through this dilemma. Their almost-two-year old daughter, full of the same spitfire and energy that befalls Alice, recently lost her favourite bear. Bear fell out of the stroller (they think) somewhere on the streets of Woodstock, Ontario, and now the child is bereft with grief. She won't sleep without it and is driving her poor parents to distraction (and, more possibly, hard liquor). They have tried to locate a similar bear (as in - hey look! Bear grew up!), but, as luck would have it, this particular bear was purchased in Denmark a few years ago and is virtually untraceable.

So my poor friend has asked me to post this picture of Bear here, to see if anyone has seen a bear that looks like this anywhere in the world. Teddy bears are a dime a dozen, I know, but if you knew this child and her penchant for screaming...well, you would want these parents to have one small break. Please. For the love of Bear. Let me know if you have seen a teddy bear like this before.

Won't you help a mama get some sleep?

Sunday, January 07, 2007

yes. i know

My blogging activity over the past few months has been negligent at best. What can I say? The holidays, work, child, eating, drinking, hanging out with real-life family and friends. It kind of took over. And then there's the motivation thing. I mean, really - if I have the choice between writing in this blog or watching a marathon of that damn show 24, you know which one will win, right?

But yes here we are. A brand new year, and another chance for me to make some new resolutions and then ultimately fail. So I am finally not going to do that. I am just going to tell myself I will endeavor to write more and leave it at that. Because I really don't need something else to feel bad about, ya know?

I do have a post brewing on a wrap-up of my 20 book challenge from 2006, but that will come later this week.

I spent the holidays waist-deep in all things pink, Barbie, and princess. God help me, this child seems intent on picking up every single branded item I fucking hate. What can't she love black turtlenecks and jeans like her mom? Case in point, as I write this she is sitting beside me on the floor acting out some game between a singing Ariel doll and Strawberry Shortcake. Although I do have some hope for her yet, as all I keep hearing are things like "you're not my mommy" and then demanding much louder "TAKE YOUR MASK OFF!"


But mostly it was nice to spend just regular hanging-out time with Alice. We're so used to a rigid schedule of daycare, dinner time, reading time, bath time, ativan time, that we're not used to having available hours that are open-ended. It's nice to have time once in a while to just watch movies and eat chocolate and play school and lie down again. And it's especially nice that Alice seems content to do these things with us. Most of the time.

The rest of the time, it's dance time.