On Mondays Jet and I have a new routine: ballet starts at 10:00 a.m. After breakfast, I braid her hair and she plays in pajamas until it is time to don her pale pink leotard. For her first class, Jet danced in socks with non-skid bottoms. Although the socks were instructor-approved, several children called disparaging attention to Jet’s lack of ballet slippers. Thanks to a hot tip from one of the other grandparents, however, we found a discount pair at Wal-Mart before the second class.
It seemed to me that Jet had handled the negative comments of the other students with aplomb, but as we crossed the threshold Jet shouted, “I gots shoes just like everyone else now!” She sat on the dance floor and held up a foot to the teacher, “Can you please tie these the way you did for my friends?”
“I think I did it right, Jet,” I assured her. No need to bother the teacher!
Jet gave me a hard look, eyes narrowed. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen that look on my own face on occasion. “I want the teacher to do it Grandma.” I backed off and the teacher untied and retied the slippers.
Jet seems to love the lessons and unlike many of her peers has so far managed to avoid the need to use the restroom in the middle of class. Her desire to stay in the room makes me very proud and even happier to escape the trials and tribulations involved with helping a three year old in a leotard in a public restroom. At the end of the class, the dance teacher encouraged the children to attend a special story and craft event scheduled to start in exactly one hour. Jet was more than eager to attend.
“Hurry, Grandma! Let’s hurry, hurry, hurry! Let’s go home and change my clothes and come right back!” We raced out of the building and back to Grandma’s house for clothes, a snack, a drink and a trip to the potty. We let the dog out, too. “Let’s go! We don’t want to be late!” I hoped that the event lived up to her imagination.
The librarian read four stories about bugs, ending with The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle. Most of the children sat on the floor, but one little girl hung back on her grandma’s lap. The grandmother urged the girl to join the others but she shook her head and shrank back. Jet patted the floor and made welcoming gestures. “You can come sit with me,” she said.
Although the little girl didn’t budge, the librarian complimented Jet. “You are so nice! That was such an outgoing, friendly thing to do!”
Jet beamed and I grinned like her proudly besotted grandmother. Jet is the first of her matriarchal line to display such extroverted tendencies! When it was time for the craft, Jet wanted one of the girls from the dance class to sit next to her, but she didn’t want to her leave her nanny. “Why won’t she sit with me?” Jet wondered. The nanny invited us to move next to them instead, but the little girl put her hands up to ward off Jet’s advance. Jet sat back down and looked at me. “Why doesn’t she like me?” Being an extrovert is harder than I realized!
I was saved from trying to answer that question as the art teacher started speaking about the beautiful butterfly Jet was going to make. Soon she was painting intently. Jet loves to paint. The teacher gave a one-minute warning to finish the project as she was going to come and take the paints away. When she arrived, however, Jet looked her firmly in the eyes and said in an equally firm tone, “I’m not finished yet!”
The teacher backed away. “Okay, you can have one more minute.” On the next pass, she quickly picked up Jet’s paints and retreated without waiting for a reaction. Jet sat in stunned silence, glaring at the teacher. Her face turned pink and tears began to run down her cheeks but she made no sound.
“I’m sorry, sweetie,” I said as I patted her back. “The teacher said it was time to finish. You can put more paint on at home if you aren’t done.”
Jet whimpered softly and the teacher looked back. “Oh my goodness! You still aren’t finished?”
Jet nodded. She looked heartbroken. I could almost see the teacher weighing her options. All the other children had surrendered their supplies. What to do? A small sob escaped as Jet turned to me for comfort.
“Okay, Okay, you can do a little more,” the teacher said, and brought back the paint.
Jet took a deep breath and set to work. She added some blue to her yellow and made green. She rinsed her brush and added more red. The other children displayed their butterflies and the teacher took a photo. Jet added one more dollop of blue, put the brush in her container of water and said: “Now I’m done.”