What activities are your kids doing now? How are they affected, if at all, by the pandemic?
L is currently taking contemporary dance. Last year, she did ballet and jazz. She did ballet with Pacific Northwest Ballet, the premier ballet school in the area. She’d previously taken classes at a local dance school that emphasized competitive dance, but their timing didn’t work for us last year, so we switched to PNB, as I figured we could see what it was like. Our experience was somewhat mixed. Like most flagship dance schools, they don’t allow parents to watch the classes, so I really have no idea how the classes compared to the other school, where I’d watched for years. (More importantly, B could watch, which kept her entertained when my nanny or I was waiting for L’s class.) Then, because of the pandemic, the end-of-year performance was canceled, I really have no basis to compare. Last year was a very tough year for us between my pregnancy complications and then S’s early birth. One thing about PNB is that the put a lot of emphasis on hair, of all things. Hair needed to be in a perfect bun, including bangs. Now, I can put L’s hair up no problem, but it was very tough for Jonathan, and there were times when I really needed my sleep on Saturday morning. L also didn’t appreciate all the bobby pins and hair spray just for a dance class. Finally, it was more expensive. This year, when they announced their classes would be online for the 2020/2021 school year, we decided to switch back to her other school, which we knew was more motivated to do classes in person. If L had shown a particular passion or precociousness for ballet, we likely would have continued to take classes at PNB, but while she enjoys it, I don’t think she loves it.
This year’s contemporary dance class was initially online, but went in-person sometime around Christmas – I don’t remember exactly when. The kids wear masks and are spaced apart. I was at first very nervous about an in-person dance class. School seems unambiguously worth the risk, but a dance class is harder call. However, it turns out there are only three kids in her class, one of whom is in her pod at school, so I’m really glad I got over my concerns and sent her in-person. I really like her dance school, and I am worried they are going to go out of business. They MUST be struggling. Normally her class would probably have 18 kids in it and would sell out months before it started. And now there are three? What a disaster for them.
In addition to dance, L is taking swim. Swim is five days a week for an hour, though L skips one day for dance. I am really proud of L for working so hard at swim. We took the winter off, but she swam last summer through Thanksgiving, and just started up again. It’s obviously great exercise. I know it’s a challenge for her – she’s not a natural athlete, and working out several days a week isn’t easy for anyone. But I see her building strength and technique, and I think it’s character building. She is REALLY missing swim meets, which have been on hold due to the governor’s restrictions. L hasn’t had a chance to complete since 2019 – just practice, practice, practice. Not even a time trial. Hopefully they’ll have swim meets this summer.
B is doing soccer on the weekend. While L has declared she hates soccer (and so is no longer doing it), B seems to really enjoy it. It’s a really low-key once a week program on Saturdays, but it seems to be going really well. We had a negative experience when she first tried soccer, but things have been much better this year. It really helps that they have separated out boys and girls. She had an awesome coach in the fall, and I hope she gets to play for him again. The governor had forbidden soccer games in the fall (which I think is stupid since games don’t require more contact than scrimmage during practice and it’s outdoors), so we’re still waiting for B to get a chance to play her first soccer game.
B takes swim lessons twice a week, and it is extremely slow going. Recreation in pools was forbidden by the governor last summer, so neither girl has had a chance to just play around in a pool since 2019. (Lap swimming is allowed, which is great for people who already know how to swim but not so great for kids.) I think that’s a huge loss, and I sincerely hope that’ll be changed this summer. For now, B is making slow progress. I think at this point, she could keep herself afloat briefly at least, if she were to fall in the water inadvertently. One thing I think is interesting is that the instructors now wear waterproof masks during lessons. Necessity breeds invention I guess.
I’ve also resumed piano lessons with B. Both girls have been back on school full-time since February, and it is honestly so great. Among other things, it has given me more time to do things like teach the girls piano. L is so busy, we’re taking a break until summer, but I’m enjoying teaching B. We’re continuing to use the Alfred series, and she’s got a few more songs left in Level A of the “Prep Course.” I think the so-called prep course (A, B, C, etc.) is perfect for a Kindergartner or first grader, and probably some second graders. The Basic piano course (1A, 1B, 2, etc.) by Alfred is better for some second graders, and third grade and up, in my opinion.
Isla is interested in trying Irish dance, and H would love both girls to try basketball, as that was his favorite sport. It’ll be interesting to see how their preferences develop as they grow older.