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Here's Hoping My Kid's Not Talented

Photograph by Dance School Diaries

My 3-year-old daughter’s been taking an after-school dance class at our local recreation center. I don’t know what she loves more—the twirling, the tap shoes or shaking it off to Taylor Swift—but I’m glad she’s enjoying herself. I’m just hoping she’s not actually talented.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting the cast of "Dance School Diaries," a popular YouTube series created by "So You Think You Can Dance" maestro Nigel Lythgoe. The show follows four gifted teenaged ballet dancers—Madison, Lex, Sage and Andrea—as they compete for a shot at the big time. You can see their amazing talent for yourself on the DanceOn Network's YouTube channel.

RELATED: Watching My Daughter Dance

Photograph by Dance School Diaries

There are so many good things to say about these wildly talented kids. They are poised, self-possessed, passionate, focused and dedicated to a degree that is rare in someone so young (I recall my teen self practicing piano for a whopping 15 minutes before wandering off to watch "Brady Brunch" reruns. Is it any wonder I only know "Chopsticks" today?).

But as a mom, the idea of parenting such a talented kid terrifies me. For one thing, these dancers work at their craft so intensely—Lex said 7-8 hours per day—that most have to be home-schooled (my nightmare) and none of them have free time for such typical teen activities as roaming the mall. It worried me that they don’t get the chance to relax and just be kids.

While I would never want to deny my child such a life-changing opportunity, I’m not sure I could handle the separation.

When asked if she’d missed out on any of the quintessential high school experiences, Sage, who models as well as dances, told me she’d never gone to homecoming, but she had posed for a homecoming-themed spread in a magazine! She laughed wryly, knowing these two things are not exactly the same.

Scarier still is that Sage’s mother had to kiss her goodbye at age 12, sending her alone to New York to study ballet. While I would never want to deny my child such a life-changing opportunity, I’m not sure I could handle the separation. These dance moms go through a lot.

The day I visited "Dance School Diaries," I brought my mini ballerina with me and the cast generously favored her with a lesson. The look on my kid’s face was pure awe as she stared up at Madison’s tutu, her graceful body en pointe, moving with perfect fluidity and control. I’m glad she’s inspired. As long as she’s not talented.

The good news is, I have several years before I have to worry about my daughter’s dance skills. According to Andrea’s dad, he didn’t know her ballet dreams were serious until she was 9, when her instructor asked to speak with him. For a moment, he’d thought Andrea was in trouble. Turned out the ballet teacher saw real potential in her, and advised more intensive dance training.

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So I have a good six years before I need to worry about dance turning from a hobby into a vocation. By then, if my kid’s anything like her old mom, she’ll have quit dance and developed a deep appreciation for television.

"Dance School Diaries" is available for viewing on the DanceOn Network on YouTube.

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