I'm Broke AF Because My Kid Is In Dance

by Meredith Ethington
waldru / Shutterstock

My daughter shattered my dreams of being a dance mom when she was 5 years old and confessed she didn’t want to do dance anymore.

Okay, I didn’t really want to be a dance mom. But the costumes were so cute, and have you seen a tiny hair bun on a 3-year-old ballerina?

What truly surprised me, though, was when I began to notice that my son had a natural ability and inclination to dance. Since neither my husband nor I have any hint of rhythm, I couldn’t help but stare in shock and awe the first time I watched him dance. He seemed to feel music deep within his bones.

Last year, I finally decided that he just needed a little nudge in the right direction. He had said no to dance classes every time I had asked him before, but this time, I told him that he had to at least try a class.

Like many 7-year-old boys, he’s hesitant to try most things besides video games, but begrudgingly he agreed to go. I was thrilled to discover he actually loved it and wanted to keep going. That is, until I realized how much it was going to cost me.

The classes themselves weren’t so bad, but it was the registration fee, and the costume fee, and the recital fee that made my head start spinning. There was probably a fee because you had to pay so many fees.

He was taking a breakdancing class, and I’m pretty sure he could have learned most of what was taught from watching YouTube videos. And our $40 costume was a T-shirt and saggy Hammer pants that went up to his pits.

I continued to fork out the money for every fee along the way, though, because frankly, he loved it.

And he was good at it. Not just good, but he caught on fast, and his teacher even suggested he should take private lessons. I decided I wanted to be able to pay my mortgage, so we passed on that idea.

At the end of the first semester of dance, I was shocked to find out we’d have to pay $10 a ticket just to watch him dance in his own recital which he’d been working so hard for.

“Umm, wait…what?” I responded.

I think I actually lost my vision for a minute when his teacher said, “It’s actually common practice for most dance studios to charge for the recital.”

So, for my family of five, we had to pay another $40 to watch my kid do this two-minute routine he learned, which was mostly made up of dabbing and clapping while other students performed. I started to feel a little taken advantage of as I sat in the recital with my squirmy 4-year-old who asked no less than three times during the opening number if we could leave.

Hmm…can a 7-year-old get a job? I wondered as I watched the expensive cuteness of it all.

I don’t regret the decision to sign my kid up for dance, or any extracurricular activity for that matter. I’m happy my kids have these opportunities and can pursue the things they love. So what if I mumble, “This better be his passion,” under my breath every month when I write that check.

But I can’t help but let my mind wander sometimes and daydream about the ridiculous things I could afford if my kid didn’t take dance. After all, it doesn’t hurt a girl to dream, right?

Here are a few random things I daydream about being able to afford as I sit outside that dance door listening to his dreams come true:

1. Self-Grooming

My eyebrows look like they could seriously rival a 65-year-old man’s most days, and laser hair removal for my chin hairs sounds lovely as I’m approaching 40 this year. Let’s not forget groomed toenails and anti-aging creams from Ulta. Those sound nice, but dance has a grip on my bank account.

2. High Thread Count Bed Sheets

Looking back on my life as a 20-something, I thought by 40 I would have had my crap together enough to be able to afford expensive sheets. But no. Because, dance.

3. A Second Pair of Pants That Fit Me

You’d think without eating that guacamole I’d be super slim, but instead, I have one pair of pants that fit me. It would sure be nice to have another, but you guessed it: Breakdancing takes priority over my pants.

4. Multi-Level Marketing Products

My friends need to know that I do support their dreams of running a small business selling essential oils, but I also need to support my 7-year old in his dream of the week right now which happens to be dance. Those leggings do look like they could flatter the tummy that my 4-year-old calls “squishy,” but I’m going to have to pass, thanks. And, no, I don’t want Jamberry nails that look like a peacock feathers either.

5. Home Improvement Projects

There is a hole in the wall where I may have ripped out a towel rod trying to kill a spider that one time, a year ago. Fixing it would be nice, but dance.

6. Noise-Canceling headphones

Because, kids. But nope, can’t afford them.

7. Getting My Car Detailed

Silly me for wanting this, because I know I’m blessed, but it would be nice if empty yogurt tubes didn’t fall out when I opened the door and splatters of vomit from the stomach bug incident of 2013 weren’t still visible. On second thought, we should probably just burn this car and get a new one, but that’s right, dance.

8. Avocados

Have you priced an avocado lately? I mean, seriously. They cost a small fortune. Sorry, guacamole, but my kid is in dance.

Really Good Toilet Paper

Kidding. I take that crap seriously.

Maybe it’s time to make my kid get a job for real. I ponder silently as I listen to the sounds of LMFAO blaring on the other side of the dance studio door.

After all, he really loves to dance, and somebody has to pay for it.