Benjamin’s preschool has something called “enrichments,” which is three kinds of awesome because it’s all these extra little classes that we might want to enroll him in, except the instructors come to the preschool and teach the class right there, thereby freeing us from having to haul their little tushies all over tarnation so that they can be enriched. The instructors are independent contractors, but the preschool director collects the forms and checks and hands them over to the teachers. The classes take place between the morning and afternoon sessions, so both groups of kids can partake.
We signed Benjamin up for music. He gets to stay later on Wednesdays and play instruments and most probably drive the poor music teacher to distraction with twenty-seven-million questions about the timpani. Whatever. That’s what she gets for deciding to teach music to preschoolers.
After a trip to the local children’s museum, it became clear that there was one more class we should sign him up for. You see, he spent a half an hour in the dance area, wearing a tutu and a pair of tap shoes, trying to imitate the actions being shown on a video. Clearly, he is interested in taking dance. Which is all for the best, because it might help him a little with his coordination. Or paying attention to his body. Or whatever it takes to stop him from walking into walls.
Last Monday, I went into the preschool office to sign hand in the form for the class starting on Tuesday. She paused when she saw what I was giving her.
“You might want to call the teacher,” she said. “They haven’t had a boy in a long time. They may have to change things.” In other words, they may not want a boy in the class.
I smiled agreeably and began to get up. Then, I thought the better of it. Why the hell should I call them before registering my three-year-old for dance class? It’s not like this is 1952. We’ve been through all that bra-burning and marching and whatnot precisely to earn boys the right to take dance. And for equal pay and quality childcare and the right to choose, of course. But mostly so that boys could take dance class.
“You know what,” I told her. “I think I’ll just register him. If they have a problem with it, they can come talk to me.” I did, however, think it wise to mention to Benjamin that it would be mostly girls in the class. By mostly, I meant everyone except for him, of course.
On Tuesdays, he is in the afternoon class, so the dance class is before his preschool day. As we drove to school, we were discussing the fact that in a few minutes, it would be his first day of dance class. “But, Mommy,” he queried. “Why do girls dance, too?”
“Because, babe, sometimes girls also like to dance.” Clearly, he thinks that most preschool ballet classes are completely overrun with little boys, but every now and then they decide to let a girl or two in.
When we walked into the room, there was a young woman laying down tape. “This dude is starting dance today,” I told her.
She looked up, saw who was standing with me, and panicked. “I’m just the assistant. Let me get you the teacher. She can answer your questions.”
“Oh, I don’t have any questions. Except about what shoes he should be wearing.” She nodded and scurried off in search of her boss, who returned post haste with a large smile.
“Ben here is starting dance today,” I told her. “Does he need special shoes?”
“Well, the girls all wear ballet shoes. But you could probably get him some jazz shoes.” I wasn’t sure what jazz shoes were, and Benjamin had no idea. I’m pretty sure what he really wanted were tap shoes. But there is no way I am outfitting that child with a pair of shoes that allows him to make a great deal of noise.
She turned to leave, but she couldn’t stop herself. She had to turn back. “Just so you know, he’s the only boy.”
I smiled sweetly. OK, maybe not sweetly, because I’m just basically not sweet. But nicely. I was definitely smiling nicely. “He doesn’t care. And I sure don’t, either.”
I left him, peeking back in a few minutes later to see him – a husky little Mack truck of a boy between a whole lot of pink-clad children – standing on the tape, waiting for his name to be called. When I picked him up at the end of the preschool afternoon, I asked him how dance had gone.
“Good,” he told me.
“What did you do?”
“Arabesques.” Right. Of course. Arabesques.
Can anyone tell me what the hell an arabesque is?