I have been talking about putting Ella in a dance class for a couple of months now. Finally, last week I called a local place and asked if they had any opening in their 3-4 year old class. " Yes! We have opening in our Saturday morning class. How old is your child?" She's 4, I answer. AND she has Down syndrome, I blurt out. "Okay. Well, she can come and try out the class and it will be up to the teacher whether she can stay in it."
OK. My first reaction was to be pissed. See if she can stay in it??? Seriously? Because she has Down syndrome? I immediately hated this place and was NOT going to take her. BUT then I thought for a moment. My guess is they don't want anyone in the class that will disrupt the other kids, I get it, I really do. But still.....I guess I just didn't like the way it was worded. I wanted to call back and say "my daughter goes to school with typical kids her age and does great!!!" to defend her.
So I had totally mixed feelings going into dance class Saturday morning, I was pretty worried. I wanted Ella to be in a good mood and prove to them that she can do this. (Ella's ability to be a good listener and do what the other kids are doing is awesome, her mood totally dictates whether this will happen or not. If she is in a bad mood, watch out world!) I practiced in my head how to respond if they dared to say Ella could not be in their class.
The dance room has windows along the wall for the parents to watch what is going on. Parents, from what I gathered, are not supposed to be in the room. I walk Ella in and sit her down in the circle of girls, there are 5 others, and the two teachers. I say "okay, watch your teachers and be a good listener," and leave the room. From the window I see Ella get the look, which means "I don't like it," and cover her eyes with her hands. Great. Then she runs to the door and bangs on it and yells "MOM." So I open the door and say "you are doing so good go sit back down." We repeat this process a few times during stretches, which Ella did none of. I finally just ask the teachers (who are older teenage ballerinas) if I can just come in, they smile and say sure. Once I am in the room Ella starts to listen, and starts to do what all the other kids were doing.
She stands in the middle of 5 girls, all of whom of course tower over her, and holds on to the balance bar. Does her feet the way the teachers tell her. Points her toes. Then the girls are told to line up, which she does! They then walk across the room holding their arms up and walking on their toes and although the other little girls go much faster then Ella, she does it, across the entire room, never dropping down off her toes. They do many little drills like this. Each time my tiny girl, who you can tell is having to work far harder than the other girls, does it. There were a few times when she would cover her face and run to me, I'd give her a hug and she would run right back. There was one little girl that wouldn't even come in the room and one whose behavior was much worse than Ellas.
Still. I was worried they wouldn't accept her. After all, I had to be in the room and she wouldn't stretch at all. So I head down to the office and the lady hands me a registration form. She said "the teachers said she did so good, paid attention and tried everything. Do you want to come back?" Holding back the tears I said we'd think about it. As we were in the parking lot heading to the car, Ella is screaming "Let me go" cause she doesn't want to hold my hand, a mom of a girl in her class says "She is SOOOO cute." Thanks. She asks me how old she is, and keeps going on and on about how cute she is and that she wished she had her camera. She said "please tell me you will be back next week?"
We get in the van and I cry. I am just SO proud of my little girl. She did it. I could tell it was hard for her, all the other girls did their moves so much faster, but she did it. She walked on her super tiny feet, up on her toes, all the way across the room. She did it all.
Here she is before class in her white leotard. Now that we know she will be in the class we have to go buy her tights and ballet slippers, should be fun finding those in her tiny foot size!
I am a mother to two incredible children. Hunter is 8 years old and Ella Grace is 6 years old. My children are my life, my true joy. My life was turned upside down when my daughter was born and surprised us all by having Down syndrome. Since her birth I have come from sorrow and a sense of loss to greater happiness than I ever imagined and I owe it all to The Amazing Ella Grace! Contact me anytime by email email@example.com
My face may be different,but my feelings the same.I laugh and I cryand take pride in my gains.I was sent here among you to teach and to loveas God in the heavenslooks down from above.To Him I'm no different,His love knows no bounds;It's those here among you, in cities and townsthat judge me by standardsthat man has imparted,but this family I've choosenwill help me get started.For I'm one of the children,so special so few,that came here to learnthe same lessons as you.That love is acceptance, it must come from the heart;we all have the same purpose,though not the same start.The Lord gave me lifeto live and embrace,and I'll do it as you do,but at my own pace.-Unknown