Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Story A Week: Ballerina Mom

I wrote another ballet story this week. I won't be posting it because I'm hoping to submit it to Highlights magazine.

I know, I know, another ballet story! What can I say? I've been inspired by ballet. Probably because I'm taking ballet lessons (in socks because I can't seem to remember to get online and order myself some ballet shoes!).

This week's story is about ten-year-old Matilda who's sure she's going to be embarrassed when her mom announces she'll be taking adult ballet class -- the class right after Matilda's. Only kids should take ballet ... unless you're a professional. And Matilda's mom is not a professional. She's even older than Matilda's ballet teacher! Matilda just knows she'll be humiliated when her friends see her mom pulling on tights and a leotard in the dressing room. But Matilda may be in for a surprise....

As I'm realizing with short stories, maybe especially short stories for kids, is that concept is almost everything. I haven't mailed this off to Highlights yet, because I have a feeling my concept isn't quite there yet.

First of all, why is Matilda so embarrassed of her mom? Would most kids be embarrassed of their moms taking ballet?

I quizzed my eight-year-old daughter on the subject since she was the inspiration for this story. You see, I had to make up a ballet class I missed and I asked if I could join her in her class. Her emphatic answer was "No!"

That's how the idea for Matilda was born.

But then I asked Olivia if she minded that I took ballet, you know, safe in the confines of my adult class.

No, she didn't mind at all. She didn't seem to mind her friends seeing me dancing, either. In fact, when she needed to make up a class she was very willing to make it up in adult ballet with me.

The sticking point was me invading her territory, dancing alongside her and her friends. Perhaps she's afraid I'd boss her around or be critical. Perhaps she's afraid I'd embarrass her by being a big, blundering, dancing joke.

With this in mind, maybe my concept needs to shift in that direction. Maybe Matilda's mom shouldn't take adult ballet. Maybe she should jump right in to Matilda's class. Higher stakes.

But do parents do that? I know at least one mom in our community who takes ballet with her pre-teen daughter. Good for her!

I wonder how her daughter feels about it.

Any thoughts? How would you have felt if your mom or dad decided to join you in an athletic endeavor when you were a kid? Would you have been thrilled ... or humiliated?


  1. Definitely have her jump into her daughter's class--I see all sorts of humorous possibilities! Ahem. I mean, do whatever you want, but I like that idea.

    And I gave you an award, if you want it.

  2. I agree with Myrna: There's definitely some storytelling potential there.

    And I think it's great that you're taking ballet lessons. I took ballet lessons as a kid - for about three months. I hated them so much I easily convinced my mom to let me quit. Now I wished she'd forced me to keep going.

  3. Best wishes on the piece for Highlights...Have you thought about writing a non-fiction ballet picture book? It could be a great "activity" book for little ones. :)

    Thanks for becoming a follower of my blog. :)

  4. Thanks for the help, my friends! I think I will rewrite the story with that in mind. :) Sharon, I haven't thought about writing non-fiction! But, actually, that sounds fun. Does children's non-fiction require as much of a platform as adult non-fiction?