Decisions: ballet or gymnastics?


When I was a little girl, my mother signed me up for a ballet class and a gymnastics class.

In the ballet class, of course, I stood in a row and pointed my toes and twirled and spun. In the gymnastics class, of course, I… well I tried to tumble. I don’t remember very much as this was just on the cusp of the formation of my memory. But I do remember struggling to somersault and pretty much not feeling down with anything else.

At the end of the session, my mom asked me to pick. Ballet or gymnastics. Which did I like better? Of which did I want more?

It was ballet all the way.

There are few decisions that I’ve made in my adult life that I can look back on the way I can look back on that decision to take more ballet. It was undoubtedly and wholeheartedly the right decision. I’m sure it was a gut decision, because that is how little ones think. I probably didn’t second guess myself or wonder if I should give gymnastics another try. I didn’t stress about closing a door on gymnastics and ruining my chances of ever becoming an award-winning gymnast. I chose and I went with it and I never looked back. Ballet is in my blood. It’s there to this day, even if I never lightly lay my fingers on another barre.

I love that my mom gave me the choice. And so, of course, I’m preparing the same choice for my girl.

As we neared the end of another year of ballet, I presented a slightly different decision.

“Do you want to do ballet again next year? Or do you want to try gymnastics instead?”

She chose gymnastics. Hands down. No second guessing. In much the same way that I chose ballet nearly 30 years ago.

ballet twirling

She is so excited that nearly everyone we meet gets the summary of the plan. “I used to take ballet but now I’m done ballet and in the fall, I’m going to take gymnastics.” She often goes on to explain that after gymnastics, she will take yoga. I never offered yoga but she’s added it in and I kinda love that.

Still, I’m having trouble letting go of ballet.

I actually found myself telling my mom that I’m a little worried that if she decides she doesn’t like gymnastics, then I’ll have to try to get her back into ballet and she’ll have missed some time and might be behind.

Those words sounded much less ridiculous in my head than they did swimming out in front of me.

But still, I’m having trouble letting go.

She’s loved ballet so much. She’s learned so much since her first class two years ago. She fell in love with it and she dances about our playroom to any music that might be playing, including the noises that try to pass for music as they come out of her brother’s toys. I see her move and I see dance.

And dance is in my blood. I always imagined that it would be in hers too.

So I’m having to come to terms with the idea that her blood is her own. And I’m having to remind myself that branching out and trying something new is good. It’s more than good, it’s exactly what she should do. It’s what we all should do. This is how we learn and grow. This is how we stay inspired and excited. This is how we live life to its fullest. This is how she will better understand herself and her world and her path.

This is how it should go.

So last week, I put away her ballet shoes for… maybe for the last time. At least the last time for a while. And in the fall, we’ll slide into whatever accessories one needs for gymnastics and we’ll give it a go.

And maybe someday, 30 years from now, she’ll look back on this and smile and find some grounding and simplicity in one of her earliest decisions.


And the Barefoot Books winning comment/winner is….

“Shame on the naysayers. There is no doubt in my mind that my children will achieve things I never would have thought possible. In some ways they each already have. I love Oh, The Places You Will Go and The Little Engine that Could!” ~Michelle

Congratulations, Michelle!


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