If I could use one sentence to sum up the first year I signed up my daughter for this thing called “Physie” I would say: “Trust your teacher.”
I have to admit, most of what was explained to me about this dance sport either completely confused me, or went straight over my head. I have it all worked out now (I think) but being a first time mum at this sort of thing was overwhelming at times.
Teams, Champion girl, leotards, Curlers, Make-up (eek!)
I heard about Physie through a friend, and got in touch with the teacher. We attended a demonstration where we saw a few routines and had a chat about what it could offer my daughter. Core strength, great posture, flexibility, and a varied syllabus that would keep her interested, and satisfy her desire to do a range of dance styles.
Wow, it delivered that and so much more.
I have to admit, I may have been slightly combative when I met the teacher the first time. Healthy competition? Make up? No way! This is for fitness and fun. Social and light. No way is my little girl getting on stage with curls and red lipstick. You know what her teacher said? That’s fine. She doesn’t have to compete if she doesn’t want to. We can still have a great year.
The first half of the year my daughter attended Physie once a week, and she was rubbish, but in the best possible way. She had a blast in class, you couldn’t wipe the smile off her face. She loved her teacher and the other girls in her class. She never practiced at home but looked forward to every class. For me that was perfect! Then half way through the year something clicked in her, suddenly she was wanting to watch the DVD and practice at home (I had to search for it because we hadn’t taken it out of the cover). She started asking if she could go to a second class each week.
Then my worst fear happened. She asked if she could go to an “Interclub”. I grudgingly agreed (she’s pretty convincing with her unbridled joy and enthusiasm) and spent the next few weeks worried about her hairstyle. I ended up going against her teachers suggestion of some soft curls, and went with a tight braid around her head. I thought it looked lovely (it really did – my best braiding ever). I even put a bit of very neutral brown lip gloss on her (*gasp!*)
Her teacher took me aside and tried to explain that under stage lights, the girls can look washed out, and asked if I’d allow her to put a brighter colour on her lips. Again, I grudgingly agreed, and when I was asked “There, how does that look?” I just nodded (because I couldn’t say what I really thought).
When my girl marched out (I use that term loosely – marching isn’t her strong point with pigeon toes and knobbly knees) I was surprised by two things. Firstly, she just looked like she had a black swimming cap on, and I couldn’t see the lovely braid at all. Secondly, she just looked like a slightly pale version of herself, though her lips looked fine. What I thought was hideous when she was standing in front of me in the sunshine, on stage just looked like HER.
She was just beautiful, she went the wrong way a few times, forgot a few moves, but she lit up and I could see how much she loved being on stage. I couldn’t keep my eyes off my beautiful girl, I may have even blubbered a bit. Then when the places were given, and her number was called, the expression on her face was pure gold. Since then she’s had the same reaction whether she places or not, she can’t help be happy for and congratulate her friends from our club and other clubs for their achievements. She’s the sort of kid that just has to tell a competitor she’s never met before that she looks beautiful in that colour, or her hair looks amazing.
I never expected her good sportsmanship to bloom because of Physie. I never expected to be so proud of her when she doesn’t get a place, but congratulates the other girls (and means it). I never expected my little girl to own more makeup than I do (though that really isn’t a huge challenge) or that I’d have drawers full of various types of curlers. But I’m grateful for every moment of it. Now my understanding of “Healthy Competition” has completely changed. It’s not about being “competitive” – it’s about dedication and commitment, about lifting the whole class by doing your best. It’s about encouragement and self-awareness and self-improvement. These are things I absolutely want for my child.
Now, I’m not saying it’s always joyous, there have been times she’s felt disappointed or discouraged. But those are the moments when I’ve felt most proud. Flexibility is really hard to get when it doesn’t come naturally. When she’s felt frustrated that she can’t get a few steps right, but wants to learn it because she’s been selected for a “Team”, that determination to improve is what emerges in her. I’ve realised that this sport has given her a platform to gain some essential life skills. Resilience is an amazing thing to have, even though the lessons aren’t always easy. In her Physie classes she can learn these lessons surrounded by girls and women supporting her and learning with her. For her it’s easy to take correction, because she can look at her classmates and think “Yeah, we’ve got this!”
And she’s got it.
Even if she never takes out a National Title, she’s got it.
Now I trust her teacher. I’ve seen my girl grow in confidence, resilience, good sportsmanship and achieve personal bests. I know that these are all achievements that are celebrated in her classes. Now when her teacher says “Try this colour on her” I order that colour. If her teacher suggests a particular hairstyle, we practice it. I’ve realised it’s not about the leotard or the hair. Those are the fun things to make her feel even more special when she gets to go on stage (BEST DAY EVER!).
It’s about recognising what Physie can offer her, and I get the front row seat to watch her grow into an amazing young woman.