It was only a matter of time. A girl can try on only so many tutus before she starts to get ideas in her head. Dancing ideas, that is. So, a couple weeks ago when Matilda (3) matter-of-factly informed me that her life vocation had been chosen, I sighed and listened intently with much anticipation.
"Mom-mom. I am a bee-ree-na. I go to dance class?"
Dance class. A ballerina. Oh boy, here we go.
This venture is such a paradox for me as a parent! On one hand, I have gut-wrenchingly-adorable visions of pink tulle and toe shoes and sweet buns knotted atop her little head (when that hair finally sprouts, anyway) and little recitals that we can invite our begrudged childless friends to attend. On the other, I have angst-ridden-jumping-to-ridiculous-future-hypothetical-quandaries that include thoughts of competition, malnourishment, expensive costumes, schedule-burdened weekends, and a host of other delusions that my little three-year-old daughter has no idea to even begin worrying about. Whew.
Of course, it's my glory and privilege as a parent to want to and get to offer her as much as possible that will take her in the direction to find her calling, her purpose, her joy. It's also my honor and opportunity to set healthy boundaries, realistic expectations, encourage resiliency, and esteem her efforts no matter the outcome. No pressure, right? I mean, all this and I have to check myself that I'm not vicariously placing my own ambitions or shortfalls on her shoulders as well. Right. Did I mention she is only three?
What am I getting myself into?
Nevertheless, in the end, that pleading and precocious smile got the better of me and by the end of the week I had booked her for a trial ballet/tap combo class that she could try out for free and see how she liked it before committing to anything too time consuming or expensive. Within minutes of our arrival, we were hooked. Maybe it was the shiny wooden floor, maybe it was the princess castle mural, maybe it was the tiny little tap shoes I tied around her ankles, or maybe it was simply the pure elation on my child's face...but, whatever it was, I knew I'd succumb to this adorable new world of little dancers.
I can't help but fear for my child's wants. It's such a precarious balance, right? I mean, I don't know any girl who didn't (at one point in her life) want to be a dancer. They are beautiful. And, if you've ever seen a live ballet recital or production of the Nutcracker, you know that these creatures are extreme to the average human. They are lithe, they are fierce, they are lovely. Dancers (amazingly good ones, anyway) are held to an entirely other-worldly standard and revered for it. It's awesome and scary all at once.
Of course, that's not exactly what I'm throwing my three-year-old into, I understand that. She was thrilled to be doing jumping jacks with scarves and learning what a "pliè" was. Simple, sweet, innocent, and fun. She absolutely absorbed every second of it and swallowed up the information like it was cotton candy. It made her happy. That made me happy. And it was all about her exploring something she innately liked and was curiously drawn to for no other reason than finding joy out of the discovery of it. Awesome! That's worth pursuing.
We stopped at the "Discount Dance Warehouse" before heading home and made our tiny investment in the cutest little ballet slippers and black patent leather tap shoes you've ever seen. I'm so happy to be able to provide simple joys like this for my little girl. I think of all the children of the world who aren't so spoiled and days like this remind me that these are precious moments gifted to me.
Who am I to deserve to witness such joy on my child's face? What a gift!
Sometimes that's hard to remember when my daughter is whining incessantly or my 18-month-old throws a chicken nugget at my face while I'm just trying to purchase said-adorable-shoes. But, the reality is that I'm living in a place and time where my daughters are incredibly blessed and I get to be in on it. I get to bear the responsibility of issuing some of that blessing. I get to reap its benefits. And, 5-6-7-8...I'm not going to take that for granted.
Jazz hands. Thank you, Jesus.
There's no telling how long Matilda will want to be a ballerina. By next week she could be asking to trade in her slippers for snow skis or cowboy boots. Maybe she will find her niche right away and catapult into stardom. Maybe she will struggle her whole life to find a talent that suits her best or makes her a living or provides her the contentment she seeks. Maybe she will be good at many things and hate them all. Maybe she will terrible at many things but love it anyway. There's just no telling.
The exciting (albeit, daunting) thing about being her parent is that I get to pray her through this roller coaster of life. I do my best to buckle her in safely, and then trust that the ultimate Engineer has constructed the road ahead to her best advantage. I will doubt it. I will fear it. I will question it. This, I am sure. But, I will do my utmost to remain there, by her, blessed to just be within the blessing of her life.
I might not know too much about the days and trials to come as my girls grow up and discover how their talents, strengths, and desires all match up (or don't). It's just such a gift to be able to witness it all. And, until then, I will enjoy these fleeting moments of watching my eldest merrily fumble her way through first position and tap her way to happiness. I will do my best to count these blessing with each 8-count of her little routines. And that's enough for me to keep the beat to for right now.
Let the Dance Pardy begin.