I am the most emotional mom in our Mommy & Me Dance class.
At least, I think I am.
I try to keep my emotions in check until I'm in the car.

Three years ago, I wondered if Ellie would live long enough to take a dance class.
Then, I mentally designed ways to decorate her future wheel chair with pink tulle & determined that yes, she would take dance class - even if it meant me spinning her wheelchair around so she could participate.
Secretly, I kind of dreaded being that mom - I mean, I'd do it in a heartbeat for my kid - but, honestly, it wasn't exactly how I had once fantasized about my daughter doing dance. 

In August, we registered for our first dance class dance.
Ellie talked for weeks about her first dance class and she was so, so excited.
We go once a week & Ellie LOVES it.
She adores her teacher and sings songs from dance class all the time - adding in an extra line to include Mrs. J's instructions.
Her teacher is precious.  I feel like I am watching a play in which a grown up plays the role of a 3 year old little girl.  Her voice & mannerisms - so on target for these little girls.  She must have been a preschooler at once.  She definitely makes me want to be a more engaged mommy in the way I interact and imagine with my kids.
The class starts with tap.
This is fun - all that tapping noise!
But it is also hard for Ellie - some of the balancing while tapping with one foot is tricky for her.
But she is trying so hard & every week I see progress.

Then we switch to ballet & she loves the little songs and motions and games we do as ballerinas.
Again, there is sometimes a difficult move for her but Ellie doesn't know yet that she struggles with some of the moves and it is a no-pressure class with lots of sweet encouraging friends and mommies and grandmommies... really, it's just me that notices.

One of her best friends is in our class so that is so fun for Ellie.
Plus, we often go do fun things after dance class with Elin & her mommy and our new friend, Anna Claire and her grandmommy.
 This is Ellie's first non-medical and non-church activity and it is so very rewarding watching her make friends with peers and participate in something so very typical for little girls her age.

The last ten minutes of class are spent doing gymnastics.  Ellie LOVES this part.

She especially loves jumping on the trampoline.  It takes some assistance from me but we are coming up with ways to help her jump and she just laughs and watches herself in the mirror - loving every minute.

She enjoys the balance beam with just a barely bit of assistance and has even been doing the crawling part!
For those unfamiliar with arthrogryposis (who isn't?), typically (ha ha ha - whatever that means!), kids with AMC don't crawl.  Ellie first rolled as her primary mode of mobility.  Then, she scooted for a long time on her bottom.  Finally, less than a year ago, she took her first steps!  Crawling is hard for hips and knees with limited range of motion so it's just a milestone we don't worry about.
In fact, two years ago, Ellie once cried for 4 hours after kneeling in therapy - the pain was intense for her.
By this summer, she suddenly started kneeling... then crawling!  I don't know what happened but I'm guessing she got to a point where her knees and muscles could just do it for short bits of time.
Anyway - to get to the point - Ellie can know crawl for brief spurts and she has enjoyed this part of gymnastics/dance too.

 I love putting her in her leotards and skirts and putting her hair in buns and bows.
It's all so completely humbling.
I am so so so thankful.
I am so thankful she is here and well and so very able.
I am so thankful for dance teachers who welcome us to their class and encourage my girl and love watching her learn and succeed.
I am so thankful for this sweet time to do an activity with Ellie that doesn't involve therapy or doctors.
And I'm especially thankful for a physical therapist who agreed this should count as some of Ellie's pt - and has dropped Ellie to just one time a month of PT!

My sweet  Ellie girl - loves her dance class and has no idea that her mommy can hardly hold it together every Wednesday morning.
I have so much to be thankful for.

5 thoughts:

Annette Honeycutt said...

Teared up.... you are a very blessed mama! Miss you guys!!!!

Kristin said...

My Lauren dances and has been in the recital every year. And kids with Autism, don't really do that. Between, the noise, the bright light, the stress. it's not usually a good place.

Now, at there school, recitals are kids only. I've never seen a teacher on stage but that changed last year. Lauren kept getting distracted during her dance. So, her teacher squeezed her self into an itty bitty costume and danced with the class. Our school makes the recitasl into shows like Beauty and the Beast, Annie. Miss Rachel into the scene and no one really noticed that she was not supposed to be doing that.

But we noticed. And I will never forget sitting there crying as I watched Lauren rock herself out on stage to the best of her ability. And I will never forget the kindness that she was shown that day.

I later told the owner how happy and impressed I was that they had truly found away to encourage and honor each dancer at their own level of ability. They did it for the little kids and the girls that will eventually dance professionally. And they did it for a little girl with Autism.

Jo Anna said...

Ellie looks so precious in her leotard and skirt! What a sweet little girl!

~Stevie~ said...

Love this post SO much, friend!!!!

Cheryl Linder said...

Been a while since I visited your blog. I've been working full time and don't do a lot on-line. I teared up to see Ellie dancing. We are the most blessed mommies in the world. Isabella was talking about taking dance today. I wish we lived closer!Hugs! God is good!

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