I swung open the kids’ closet door and started shoving layers of tulle and satin, barreling my way through my daughter’s dresses until I found her rose pink leotard. I took the hanger it rested on and placed it on a hook behind the door. I turned to grab a fresh pair of white tights I’d put in a drawer earlier that week.
I helped her get dressed, once again explaining the delicate art of putting on tights. Then she sat and squirmed as I quickly removed the last week’s braids and wrangled any resistant curls into a bun on the top of her head. She was ready.
As I packed her new ballet slippers and tap shoes into her bag, I remembered the year I stood in a crowded line waiting for the moment she would be fitted for her first pair of ballet shoes. While unbridled excitement had her smiling, dancing, and repeatedly asking when it would be her turn, I was a bit more reserved. I held the line while smiling and thinking about how she would be doing something I’d always enjoyed—in a way I hadn’t had the chance to do it.
Sharing A Love Of Dance
I grew up one of those girls who always wanted to take traditional dance classes. However, I never had the chance until a dance instructor offered one jazz class to students in my elementary school’s after-school program. I still remember how it felt to the first time I leaped across that cold, gymnasium floor. The first time I leaned in to the beat and found my movements and rhythm in perfect time with the music. I knew it was something I never wanted to stop doing.
I saw dance as such a powerful form of self-expression, with each movement working to tell a story, only enhanced by the music pulsing through it all. Each movement working to improve the mind and the body, heal a hurting heart or calm an anxious spirit. Each movement challenging a mind that wants to learn something new. It was also a way to make friends. And like it was for David in the Bible, it was a way to worship and connect with the giver and Creator of life.
From my time performing with my college troupe to my years of teaching liturgical dance and taking occasional Zumba classes, dance has been all of those things for me. And to now share those things with my daughter, it gives us a chance to connect in a different way and makes me enjoy the art even more. It’s fun to see her still dancing and filled with excitement nearly two years after her very first class. To watch her perform or have dance parties in the kitchen. To hear her talk about how much she enjoys those things. To see her eyes light up when she hears music, finds the rhythm and spins, sways, or bops around a room.
Letting Kids Discover Their Own Creative Outlets
Even with all of those wonderful things, if the light in her eyes for any of those things ever waned, I would help her discover the next thing that would bring the sparkle back. I always want to let my kids explore their interests while fostering a creative atmosphere. I want them to see themselves as individuals with different gifts, talents and interests that need to be nurtured in a way that helps them identify the callings on their lives and live with their Ultimate purpose in mind. I want them to understand that they don’t have to be like me or their father or the person down the street.
Knowing that, I never assume my children will like any of the same things I do. In fact, I refuse to be the parent who pushes my children to do an activity just because I want to live out a dream or have them follow in my footsteps. Instead, I want to find the things they gravitate to—on their own.
After my daughter’s dance class ended that day, we strolled to a nearby cupcake shop for a celebratory treat. And I was thankful. Thankful we get to share, not only a love of dance, but a love of art, singing, and storytelling. And thankful she loves that as much as I do. After all, it may not be that way forever.