Other than wanting to win the race to the bottom of the stairs, Fluffy really hasn’t shown a strong streak of competitiveness.
I clearly remember studying ballet at Gwyneth’s age and being absolutely determined to be the best in the class. My rival was a girl named Lindsey with big dimples who was much better at tumbling than I (who wasn’t?). Competition with Lindsey drove me to practice at home until my barre work kicked butt, and my turn out was peerless.
Much good that did me in real life. Still, superlativity, even in toddler ballet, held its charm.
Fluffy by contrast just loves to dance. Apparently heedless of anyone’s skill level including her own, she dances through ballet class and life with an enormous gleeful grin on her face. I sometimes worry that her joie de vivre will prevent her from developing the killer instinct and relentless perfectionism of an over-achiever. Then I think, Wait a minute. Am I worried she may be too happy to over-achieve? Isn’t the end goal of everything including achievement actually happiness itself? And, p.s. have I not read the strong evidence that achievement addiction provides only fleeting bursts of satisfaction, while continual joy is attained through a combination of purpose and pleasure?
Fluffy’s ballet studio is not one of these fluff establishments that take your money for nothing because the kids are 3-4 years old. In one of Fluffy’s first classes, as the teacher and most of the class were doing their plies and sautes to “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”, Fluffy was spinning around calling out, “I’m a ballerina! I’m a ballerina!” The teacher stopped the music and told G this was not a time to play around doing our own thing, but a time to follow the teacher.
Mortified, from my prospect through the glass window in the door, I took copious notes on “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” for home study. All week long, I practiced with Fluffy. Daily I reminded her that she was taking ballet so that she could learn to dance and that she needed to watch the teacher and mimic exactly what Miss Kaitlyn was doing. In the car on the way to ballet class the next week, I gave Fluffy my Itsy Bitsy Spider Lecture once more for good measure. She promised me she would follow the teacher this time.
I waited tensely in the hall. Toward the end of class when I heard “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” music I sprang to the door! The teacher was hopping, saute, saute, saute. Seven little girls were hopping, saute, saute, saute.
Fluffy’s spot was empty. For a moment I was confused, until I realized she was splayed out on her belly doing the breast stroke, tickling the floor, and chirping, “I’m a spider! I’m a spider!”
And then something awesome happened. One by one the other little girls dropped to their bellies and started chirping, “I’m a spider! I’m a spider!” Screeeech! The music came to a halt and the teacher yanked them back to task.
By then I was smiling. I may not have a prima ballerina on my hands, but I just might have a trendsetter. Either way, Fluffy has a great time at ballet, and having a great time is an end unto itself.