20 November, 2008

If You Can't Say Something Nice...

It is that time of year.  The time when the stores jump the gun and put out their holiday decorations as early as possible.  The time when companies and people start looking at holiday menus and party schedules.  And, in my life, it is that time of year when I start dealing with the last minute Nutcracker details.

I would like to say that this is isolated to the number of costumes left to be steamed, but it is not.

It is dealing with parents, taking care of release forms and last minute details, and listening to complaints from everyone.  It is amazing how much people have to say when it is negative or regarding the work of others – yet when there is work to be done, they are strangely silent!

To a large extent, the behind the scenes work for any ballet production is done by the parents.  We fill ticket orders, supply and man the concessions, serve as ushers, take care of all the costumes and props, organize the community awareness, and help with the kids backstage (which is the most popular volunteer assignment as everyone wants to be backstage with their kids).  All this work is done for our kids.  We don’t get a lot of “thanks” or “pats on the back.”  We take time out of our own lives to get the job done.

Thus, the last thing we need is criticism – especially given that the same parents help each year and those that criticize are often those that don’t. 

Most of us enjoy supporting our kids and helping out.  For many of us, it is a chance to do something different and to chat with people that live outside of our every day communities.  There is usually a lot of laughter and joviality.  After a few years of helping, we are comfortable with one another.  Given that it is usually the same parents helping, we have seen one another through family health issues, lost jobs, and school troubles.  We are the ballet parents.

I understand that things are similar in most activities, whether they are centered on our children or organizations for adults.  There are those people that help and are part of the planning and organization while there are others that participate in the activity.  I admit, I am not part of my schools PTA (okay, do not e-mail please!!), but I support fund raisers, donate to the class and the school, and am very involved in ballet.  We pick and choose our activities; we pick and choose those things that we have time and resources to support.

But why do some feel the need to do nothing and criticize the work of others?  The ballet work falls to the shoulders of about ten people.  Of 120 parents, we pick up the extra costs, do the leg work, spread the word, fix the costumes, and listen to the critics. 

Sometimes it is difficult to stay focused upon the reason for the work.  It is not about the parents, it is about the kids!!  All of this, every penny spent and every minute given, it is all for the kids.  The kids that spend hours in the studio giving so much to dance.  It is for their love of the art, the music and the movement.  It is because the time they spend on stage means so very much to them as does the time they spend preparing. 

And so we, the parents, suck it up.  We listen to the complaints and the critics.  We bite our tongues over making a statement that probably should be stated.  We work together to make it all come together for the kids… and focus on the result.  Our dancers sharing their love and their passion on stage is worth everything given. 


(But honestly, if one more complaint comes my way in the next two weeks…!)



T said...

Yeah, that's too much!! Good for you for all of the supportive work you do for the Diva. You so rock as a mommy...

TAG said...

Ah yes, the critics. I know them well. One of the best ways to deal with the critics is to:

1) agree with them that the color of the costumes could be slightly better and

2) tell them you are putting their name down to next year be in charge of acquiring and paying for new costumes with exactly the right color.

This approach of putting the critics in charge will do one of two things. Most will shut up and go away out of fear they might actually have to do some of the work themselves. A few will agree to take a more active role in making things better. Either way you (and the girls) will be much better off.

Hope that helps.


mama llama said...

TAG is awesome and right on. I have actually used that approach and it does help. But dredging a softball field isn't something ANYONE would ever want to show up early to do, nor is picking up litter chalking the lines, so at the very least the softball parents know better than to open their mouths!!!

I am not the go-getter of the mother that many are, either. I chair a position on the PTA at Princesa's school that is very behind-the-scenes, and I ought to do more. But there is nobody to work with--if there were, delegation also takes time that I don't have; I prefer to just do it myself and cut time spent in half.

Okay, time for class, over and out. Good rant for a Thursday, TE. Looking forward to seeing Diva in action in a couple weeks! It's on my calendar!

Be well, TE.

Kathryn said...

precisely why I no longer organise any company functions