Monday, May 18, 2009

Dance (or don't). It's all the same to me.

I am sitting on the floor of my daughter’s dance studio watching her and her classmates rehearse the number they will perform in their ballet recital in just over three weeks.

They dance to a French song. Don't ask me the name because I don’t know. But before me is a line of about a dozen little girls wearing black leotards and pink tights. With one hand on one hip, they lip-sync the lyrics while the other hand moves through the air in time to the music.

Correction: Make that one dozen minus one.

My daughter – Peanut – is staring up at the ceiling. Her eyes are huge and round and she has a slightly checked-out look. The girls on either side of her smile and sway to the music. She fiddles with the band of her dance skirt and stares off into space.

Then, the girl on the far right steps forward and does a short solo. She glides two or three steps to the right, then the left. Then she twirls and steps back in line.

The girl to her left follows suit. And so on, down the line.

Peanut continues to roam about in her own world, maintaining her deer-in-the-headlights stare. She appears to be focusing on some random point a few feet over my head.

When her turn comes, she stands there looking forward.


The girl to her left nudges her.

“It’s your turn,” she says urgently. “Go! Go!”

It takes a moment for Peanut to realize what the girl is saying to her, but then the recognition comes. She smiles, takes her step forward and takes about 10 steps to the left – almost covering the entire length of the line. Then she goes all the way to the right. And then back pretty far to the left again.

Finally, she does her twirl and steps back in line.

After that, she is partly engaged in the song. She sort of mouths the words and sort of does the hand motions. But then the lead girl on the right turns and dances off. The girls after her follow to form a big circle on the stage.

Peanut? Just. Stands. There.

Again, the girl next to her prompts her to Go! Go!

So she goes.

In the wrong direction.

She walks right into the girl behind her, then corrects herself and races to close the huge gap that’s now in the circle.

The mother next to me leans in and says, “That was my daughter last year. Always out to lunch.”

I nod, trying to decide if that statement was supposed to make me feel better for Peanut, because honestly it didn’t.

The girls loop around and once again form a line.

The song finishes. They all curtsy. Peanut is beaming.

I sit with my back against the wall, mouth slightly agape, pondering what I just witnessed. The room explodes in applause from the mothers who have been invited here today to dance with their daughters.

I applaud too. Peanut races into my arms and I fold them around her and plant a huge kiss on her cheek.

“Did you like it, Mommy?” she asks.

I signed her up for dance class hoping she would have fun, spend some time with her friends and experience something different. I never had any aspirations of her being invited here. And even if she were, I wouldn’t want her to go. Ballet is a harsh world.

I peer into those big green eyes and see how happy she is.

“I loved it,” I say truthfully.

She may be a bit of a space cadet, but she’s my little space cadet.

And you know what’s cool about space cadets? They find ways to reach the stars.



Blogger Not Hannah said...

You, my friend, are a good mama. Your bebes are so lucky.

Also, my word verification is awesome: luatica. Like an underwater party! Woohoo!

12:03 AM  
Blogger Kim said...

oh did it again.. this post made big tears in my eyes..

Space cadets do dream big and usually reach their stars.. beautiful post!!

9:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a hard time with parents who put too much pressure on their girls when it comes to dance.

I think it's awesome you are not like that.

11:38 AM  
Anonymous mayberry said...

It used to drive me crazy when my daughter was in dance at age 3 and the teacher seemed to expect so much. They are THREE!

I'm so glad Peanut had fun.

11:51 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Shirley said...

I remember Kelsey's first gymnastics recital. She was the child lying on her back behind the too short curtain refusing to perform. Laryssa had come all the way in from the other end of the state to cheer her on. Oh well.

8:45 PM  
Blogger Lady M said...

You're so right. It's all about having a good time, because a life in ballet is a tough career.

12:56 AM  
Blogger Momisodes said...

You are so sweet. I love that she loves it regardless. At this age, that's all that matters :)

It's funny how we're living parallel lives at the moment. My daughter was the SAME way rehearsing. I swear she was mesmerized by 1 tiny crack in the ceiling for a while. And during the actual performance...she took the opportunity to freeze center stage to itch her nose!

8:51 AM  
Anonymous XUP said...

My daughter is still dancing/marching to a different drummer. I think these are the kids that are going to inherit the earth -- not the ones who just do it all the same

2:38 PM  
Blogger Maureen said...

Maybe she was dreaming of her solo part? I agree, as long as she is enjoying it what difference does it make if she did a perfect job with the routine?

Ah, to be so young with stars in my eyes...dream big little one, dream big :)

10:59 AM  

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