A Dance Teacher’s Guide to Parenting

You might be wondering what happened to the fieldwork portion of Fieldwork in Stilettos (and by “fieldwork,” I of course mean dating).  Well don’t worry: even though I’m no longer scouring the internet for single men, I have a plan.  I’m going to become a Mommy Blogger.

That’s right: me, Kat Richter, Parental Unit Extraordinaire, Supplier of band aids, moral support and tough, tough, love.

Of course, in order to be a Mommy Blogger, one has to be a mommy, but I’m dating a man with kids and if that’s not good enough, I also happen to have approximately 200 students under my care so as far as I’m concerned, I qualify.

On Monday night, for example, I drove over to my boyfriend’s house (that would be The Wedding Date to you long-time readers) and made dinner.  Not wanting to repeat the mistake of last month’s adventures in vegan cream cheese (which left his oldest scarred for life and forever skeptical of all things tofu) I made chili.  Thick, hearty, chock-full-of-meat chili.  And let me tell you: it was a hit.  We’re talking second helpings.  Possibly even thirds.  And He-who-does-not-like-vegan-cream-cheese thanked me no less than three times.

Clearly, if/when I do have children of my own they will happily consume everything I make.

(Right, Mom?)

And take Tuesday night.  While my students and I weren’t busy eulogizing the broken props, there was some actual, genuine educatin’ going on—and by educatin’, I of course mean bribes and threats and all the stuff of good parenting.

Tap shoes, you see, require a lot of care: screwdrivers to tighten the taps, extra shoe laces to replace the old ones when they break approximately thirty second before you’re due onstage, shoe polish for all those pre-competition touch ups and so on and so forth.

And, of equal if not greater importance, dancing bodies require a lot of care too.

As a graduate of Goucher College (which has, in my humble opinion, one of the most academically comprehensive dance programs in the United States) I’m big into personal care: proper warm ups and cool downs, not dancing while injured and keeping a full supply of band aids, Moleskin and Ace bandages at the ready.  It’s not that I’m a wimp, but having incurred a herniated disc during my junior year of college, I’ve been there, and I want to make sure none of my students end up there (or, if they do, that they’re at least equipped to deal with it).

As such, I’ve been after my students to get themselves some screwdrivers since the beginning of the year.  And don’t even get me started on band aids.  Most of them had to get two new pairs of shoes this year—flats and heels—and with new tap shoes, blisters are a given but did they bother to take the proper precautions?  Of course not—they’re teenagers; instead they spent the year hobbling around begging me to be excused from class to go ask for band aids at the front desk.

I decided enough was enough.  These girls have iPhones and Victoria’s Secret booty shorts and spend more time on Facebook than anyone else on the planet.  It was time for them to take some responsibility for themselves.

“You girls need to get it together,” I announced one month ago, “and if you do not start coming to class PREPARED TO DANCE and prepared to take care of yourselves, you’re not getting your end of the year prizes, I don’t care how good your footwork is.”

Being the brilliant educator that I am, I did not tell them what being “prepared for class” meant; I asked them, and with a bit of prompting, they came up with a list of Dance Bag Essentials, which I then typed and posted to Facebook for reference.

Lo and behold, the moment of truth arrived on Tuesday night every single girl—I repeat: EVERY SINGLE GIRL showed up to class with a bag full of the required Essentials.  I was floored.  And frankly pretty damn proud of them, so proud that I made them all line up for a picture:

tap shoe supplies

(I might possibly have threatened to pull them out of the recital if they failed to procure their Dance Bag Essentials.  Not that I actually have the power to do so, but they didn’t know that and that—I believe—it was parenting is all about.)

PS: A quick shout out to my friend and fellow tap dancer Karen Callaway Williams.  Karen makes pre-assembled Tap Emergency Kits so if you happen to be a dancer or dance teacher in need of your own Dance Bag Essentials, check them out!

4 thoughts on “A Dance Teacher’s Guide to Parenting

  1. Your philosophy is right on: ask, educate, threats and bribes, LOL and then basking in the glow when one or more of the above actually works!

  2. this happens to me too! I just put up with it and dance until my feet bleed. literally. right now I have a giant cut on my 2nd smallest toe, blisters on both my pinky toes and scars all over.

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