“She took a step and didn’t want to take any more, but she did.”
~Markus Zusak, The Book Thief
Before we made our move, Parker and I started a shared Google document and we titled it Hoser. Our code name was in case the kids came across it (we hadn’t told them about the move) or someone happened to be peering over our shoulder as we typed. Super geeky and sort of paranoid, but that’s how we roll. The document became a giant “to do” list where we logged information about Halifax. We wanted to make sure the city met all of our needs as a family, particularly when it came to our kids’ activities, schools and lifestyle.
For Elsa, I researched as much as I could about local dance studios, going mostly off business websites, online reviews, emailing the program directors and viewing occasional dance video on YouTube. I wanted to narrow it down because I knew Elsa wouldn’t have the emotional stamina to try out multiple studios. We needed to find a good fit for her quickly to damper some of the anxiety she would have starting over at a new studio.
After trying out a few places, we found our dance match at Leica Hardy School of Dance where they welcomed Elsa and made her feel at home.
Despite the welcoming staff and familiar dance practices, it still was an anxiety laden month or so until Elsa was in her groove. At times it felt like we were never going to get to a place where she was comfortable again.
Thankfully, Elsa is a very focused kid who loves dance. Joining mid-year, she worked hard and committed to her classes, but socializing wasn’t something she was up to. Granted, there isn’t much talking in a ballet class, but the before and after class chit chat was something Elsa avoided entirely. She told us multiple times she wanted to make friends, but was too nervous to talk to anyone.
I have learned with Elsa to take baby steps. One day she noted “I smiled at someone in class today!” I said, “Awesome! How about next week you say ‘hello’?”
The next week, she said “hello” and eventually talked to a classmate, which turned into a few conversations.
Fast forward to last weekend and Elsa had her first Canadian dance recital. By this time, she was excited to hang back stage with her classmates, which was a relief for me since I wasn’t able to volunteer.
Much to my surprise, dress rehearsals were open to one parent/family member per child and we were able to videotape and take pictures. Yeah! This gave me a chance to sneak a peek, not only at her dances, but also Elsa’s interactions with her classmates.
It put me at ease to see her palling around with her dance group and making light and fun conversation. A few of her friends reserved her a seat in the audience to watch the older girls dance and that’s when I knew everything was going to be okay.
Here is Elsa all ready for rehearsal.
Elsa loves being on stage at a dance recital, so her evening went really well. Even better, she said she had a blast backstage hanging with her friends.
The dance studio takes a two month break, so until then, she has been practicing in her room and choreographing dances. I even taught her some of my childhood dance routines and we danced outside on the deck. She was amazed at how “old” the music was…we were dancing to Hot Lunch Jam for my Brenda’s School of Dance friends out there. 🙂
As for everyone else, Sophie is finally done with school on Friday. The students report for an hour, get report cards and are dismissed. She has plans to walk to the library with her friends and grab ice cream. Sophie is loving her independence and happy to still be in a city where everything is walkable and she can eat a good lunch. We are proud of her academic achievements and even more so of her optimism and drive to start public school in a new country. Here she is with a famous movie star.
Soren wrapped up tee ball and is into making inventions and working with magnets. He also enjoys helping me in the garden.
Ellinor is crawling all over the place and it’s time to invest in some gates. She also mastered pulling up on furniture, especially when there is an iPad near.