Every once in a while I’m reminded of the commitment my husband and I have made to our son, Julian, and that it isn’t necessarily “normal.” Well, let’s just say, not everyone makes this type of commitment to their child.
On Sunday I was speaking to my neighbor as we exchanged holiday gifts and explaining that I hadn’t seen her since spring because I’d been to New York with Julian most of the summer and then had come back only to begin sharing the three-hour round-trip drive to San Francisco every day with my husband to get Julian to his new ballet school seven days a week. She told me that she was impressed by my commitment to my son and to the support my husband and I give him as he pursues his passion and his dream of becoming a professional ballet dancer.
My response was the same as usual. “I can’t imagine not supporting him and doing everything I can to make it possible for him to do what it takes to succeed.”
As we talked, I realized once again that not all parent do support their young dancers in this manner. Indeed, some can’t. Maybe they can’t financially or they can’t because their work prohibits them from doing so. Some don’t feel dance is a worthwhile career–or isn’t secure enough to pursue.
I wonder what Ron, my husband, and I would have done had he not been working at home right now? Would we have been able to manage the drive every day? Could he have taken off work to help me get Julian to City Ballet School? Would I have been able to drive five days a week if he couldn’t have helped except on weekends? And what if our daughter had not gone off to college this year? Might we have had to say, “no”?
We’ve never said “no” because of money, although it’s been tight at times. Indeed, all our dispensable income goes to our children’s pursuits. That’s just how we choose to spend it.
But back to the driving…We aren’t the only parents making long drives for their dancin’ boys (or girls). I know of several who have written to me or whom I have met. These parents make a huge commitment to their kids in terms of time and effort. It’s huge…really. I work at home. I know. I lose way more than three hours of drive time each time it’s my turn to drive.
On the other hand, their are ways to make the drive and the time waiting at the studio workable. Here are a few options:
- Consider the time in the car quality time with your son. Julian and I often spend most of the time talking.
- Make the drive a quite time to think, listen to music, listen to books on tape, or to simply just be quiet and look at the scenery (while your child does homework).
- Find a nice coffee shop nearby and make that your refuge while you wait. Bring a book or your computer.
- Make dates with friends who live near the studio. Consider this play time for yourself.
- Get away from the studio. Find things to do in the area that interest you.
- Begin using your waiting time for appointments. Find doctors, printers, stores, etc., that you can visit while waiting instead of while you are closer to home.
- When the school is quiet, such as during the holidays, scope out the empty studios. Ron has actually used an empty studio as his office. He sits on a piano bench with his computer, and then he walks around the studio while he talks on the phone.He stays in their all day if no one uses it.
- I was allowed upstairs to the sewing area one day when it was quiet and no one was sewing during the break, and I may see if I can do that again. However, I found the director of the school kept talking to me! See if there are any quiet spaces you can ask to use while you wait.
- I found a corner to sit in that is out of the way. When the school is filled with young kids waiting for class (and noisy), I sit there with headphones on while I work. I find this less distracting than sitting where many kids run by.
- See your car as a refuge. It can be a good place to go sit and read or work when it’s too noisy in the school.
- Save your exercise time for that period when you are waiting for your son. Forget about how you look afterward and simply use the time for yourself. The dancers are all sweaty, too!
- Bring lots of snacks and drinks. Don’t let yourself feel deprived of the things you need and want while you wait. Come prepared.
I think the largest issue my husband and I have had with driving Julian so far to dance has been dealing with a sometimes (often) moody and seemingly ungrateful teenager. I get quite angry when I think about what I “give up” only to be yelled at, spoken to disrespectfully, or not not thanked for the things I do. However, if I remember that Julian is just 16 and a typical moody kid ( and he really is grateful but doesn’t often say so), and I reframe what I’m doing by remembering that I am not giving something up but giving something to my son–a huge opportunity to create his future as a professional dancer–then all the time driving and the hours spent at the ballet school waiting for him are well worth it. In fact, I don’t mind at all.
However, ask me how I feel about it at the end of this school year…or next school year! Hopefully, I’ll be able to say the same thing.
[If you are reading this before 10 a.m ET on 12/30/10, please be sure to vote for My Son Can Dance in the Best Dance Blog 2010 Contest. All votes must be in by 10 a.m. ET on 12/30. Cast your vote here. Thanks for your vote. If I win, the award helps me help more young male dancers realize their dreams of becoming professional dancers.]