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Afterschool (not so) fun

24 Jan

I am about 10 seconds away from being a dance mom.  I watch the show and think – I really could be those women. For serious.

We laugh and call them psycho, but no joke, I hover close to that. I think there is an inner dance mom in all of us, no matter how laissez faire we may present as.

My 8 year old daughter takes ballet. She started when she was three years old and has loved it ever since. It is not uncommon to see her dancing around the house putting on shows or asking me to film her. She has consistently attended the same ballet school. At this particular school, ballet is the only discipline offered, save for character and stretching, and the students attend no competitions. They do yearly exams and perform in the Nutcracker at Christmas and an end of the year recital.

While I consider her ballet education first rate (the teachers are former ballerinas), there are a few things that have been slowly getting on my nerves.

1. The class sizes. Every time I look around there is a new girl.  At one point, the size of the class was 27. Twenty-seven. 27. That is not cool.

2. They accept anyone despite saying that they have auditions and place people according to ability. Nothing annoys me more than seeing a girl who wandered in off the street and can’t point her toes in a class with kids who have been taking ballet seriously for years. It isn’t fair to the new kid, it isn’t fair to the girls who have been doing it forever and it isn’t fair to the teacher.

3. There is no individual attention. See points 1 and 2.

4. Nutcracker rehearsals start in mid-October and go until the show. Then there is a three week holiday break. There are almost no classes during that time. That’s right – no ballet classes in a ballet studio. Essentially, I pay for my kid to rehearse.

5. To add to that, my daughter was in a dance separate from her class this year. While her class rehearsed she watched. She did her rehearsing on Sundays, the days designated for rehearsals. I paid for her to sit on a bench.

6. My daughter has been told to get pointe shoes since she was 7 years old. Forgive me for not believing in the” assessment”, when the girls just off the street have also apparently attained the necessary technique and leg strength for  pointe shoes.

The giant class sizes, the lack of instruction, limited to no individual attention, putting super young kids and/or kids with no experience on pointe,  and the lack of appropriate levels has me pissed off.

My daughter loves to dance. I, however, cannot take the constant stress this is causing me or her upset at the large class sizes, no individual attention, new girls all the time and lack of instruction.

Today I went in to see the administrator with another mom, a woman who is a friend of mine and whose daughter has been dancing with mine for years. We came armed with a chart on the classes missed due to (lack of) rehearsal and the fact that we planned to come to an extra two classes a week until the end of February to make it up.. The administrator was NOT happy with us.  Essentially, he suggested that we pay for the rehearsals. What the? Apparently we were supposed to have known that part of our tuition was for rehearsals despite there being no precedent from the previous years. No one raised their voice but we were told that “if we need to part ways due to lack of agreement, our money would be refunded”. What the? I say again.

I am hoping that tomorrow cooler heads will will prevail and we can move forward for the rest of the year. Or move on. I need to decide whether to accept no make ups or to leave with a refund. Ideally, I will get what I want, and that is the make ups.

Where I differ from the dance moms on TV is that I like to think I walk the walk. I have taken my daughter to two  different ballet schools (same style) to try out classes in various levels. In the end she chose the one she liked the best and that is where I will take her next year.

For now. I wait until tomorrow.


Disney and Similac Team Up to Undermine Breastfeeding for Moms

4 Oct

I was alerted to a press release on Twitter discussing a partnership between Disney and Similac.  The release states:

We are very excited to introduce a brand new Similac partner opportunity — Pediatric Kits! It’s just announced but we’ve already brought in Blairex and Olan Mills as new partners. Similac will be delivering over 2 million Ped Kits to OB/GYN offices all over the country this year. That’s a great way for the right brands to meet new moms and their little bundles of joy! It’s been an amazing few years working with Abbot Nutrition. We’ve seen the Similac program double in terms of new partners and we’ve been a part of helping monitize the initiative with over a million dollars in new revenue.

Also, this just in: we’re pleased to announce the recent signing of Disney as one of our newest Similac Co-op partners. Look for exclusive Disney offerings in our Similac Discharge kits beginning this Fall.

Reading this, I am absolutely horrified.  First of all, the so called “Pediatric Kits” are nothing more than items designed to undermine breastfeeding.  These kits are given out with coupons and formula and bottles so that mothers have them within ready access.  If something is difficult with breastfeeding and the mom does not have the help they need to breastfeed, these “kits” come in handy.   The middle of the night desperation is exactly what the formula companies are banking on.

The partnership idea is particularly gross to me because these companies add something else to the kit – something that is appealing to an even wider group. Breastfeeding mothers who would otherwise refuse the kit, may take it because of cereal, clothing, or Disney coupons or samples (things that have nothing to do with breastfeeding).  Once that kit is in the house, the undermining of breastfeeding happens.

Finally, it is clear that this is all revenue driven because the release discusses the money that they are making!  These kits are not about helping out new moms, they are about selling a product.  The only way to sell formula is if people are not breastfeeding.  A way to stop people from breastfeeding is to market formula in sneaky and underhanded ways like giving out “pediatric kits” in hospitals full of formula and coupons to Disney.

I wish companies like Disney would support breastfeeding.  Breastfeeding lounges in hospitals sponsored by Disney or other companies could be an interesting thing.  The company could promote their brand, while giving much needed funds to help breastfeeding mothers.

Food for thought.


My kid has more money than me

3 Oct

My 8 year old daughter carries a nice little (adult) purse.  In that purse, she carries a few standard “lady”  items such as lip gloss, gum, a small pack of tissues, a (fake) cell phone.  She also has three wallets.  That’s right.  THREE wallets.  3 wallets. One wallet is solely for change.  It’s made out of old kool aid wrappers and she bought it for one dollar at an art show that we went to this past summer.  My daughter often has a lot of change in this particular wallet, to the point that her purse is heavy for me to carry.

She soon realized that this small wallet was not cutting it for her so she started using another wallet she had, this one from Claires, something she received as a gift for her 6th birthday.  This particular wallet is black and has silver sparkly stars on it and is quite cute.  It’s a sturdy wallet but pretty.  This wallet contains the bills.

The third wallet came into the mix when my daughter’s cards did not all fit into the second wallet.  I know what you’re thinking – what 8 year old has cards?  The answer is – mine.  She keeps her gift cards in her main black wallet, but her chuck e cheese cheerleader card is in the card wallet, as is a dave and busters card, and several hotel keys.  This purple “pleather” wallet was a stocking gift from a neighbouring Santa last Christmas.

The other day, my daughter was counting her money, and she had a wad of bills like no other I have seen, short of a casino.  My husband and I pay my daughter an allowance of 8 dollars a week and she earns it – emptying the dishwasher, setting and clearing the table, keeping an eye on her little brother, and maintaining her room.  She also earns money from well meaning grandparents who pay her for singing songs to them.

Last weekend, I was a Chapters with my kids and I was exchanging a book that my daughter had bought with one of her gift cards.  The difference from the new book was $1.15 and when I looked in my wallet, I had nothing.  I didn’t want to debit or credit such a low amount so I turned to my daughter and borrowed money from her.  That’s right, I borrowed $20 from my 8 year old.  I paid her back promptly!

I am proud that my little girl manages her money.  She saves money, and spends some on carefully thought out purchases.  My three year old son (turning 4 in a few weeks) started his allowance a few weeks ago ($3/week until he’s 4).  Adding that to $5 from my father in law, my 3 year old now has $14 dollars in his piggy bank.

Soon enough, my kids really will have more money than me!

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