Thursday, April 14, 2011

Bigger Picture Moment: Letting Her Be

The girls are lined up on the polished, golden floor, watching themselves dance before a wall of mirrors.  One is a head taller than most, another a head shorter than most -- that's my Mia -- but all could be identical if viewed from an angle.  A horizontal, upwards angle, perhaps, with a bright light forcing your eyes to squint. 

All of these girls have pastel-pink legs and soft leather slippers.  Their hair is gathered on their heads in a motley mix of 'up': ponytails, buns, braids, pigtails -- that's my Mia.  And most importantly, most indistinguishably, are their black leotards.  One and all. 

Black and pink with up-done hair, the girls' bodies recite the teacher's movements with awkward, lovely interpretations.  I lose track of my daughter often, among this group.  Despite her smallness, despite her long pigtails, she blends in perfectly.  She looks like a baby ballerina, port de brasing and tendu devanting and demi plieing as best she can, which is no better or worse than the rest of her peers' attempts. 

She smiles and laughs when it's time to practice Irish skipping, and her knees fly further up and out than I would have thought possible.  I'm half afraid she'll be overcome by forward momentum and simply fly away on those flapping legs, but before it actually happens, the next ballerina is flapping in the exact same fashion and I am distracted. 

So, I've lost her again.  She is so bright and colorful and easily noticed elsewhere.  She shines and arrests attention (arrests my attention, at least) instead of melding and blurring, as she does in ballet class.

Is this, I wonder, a subconscious reasoning for why she so stalwartly refuses to go to class?  Is this lack of independence part of her desire to stop the lessons?  Because for the last six months at least, it's all I can do to enforce the continuance of ballet.  We've agreed to these lessons, she wanted these lessons, we've paid for these lessons, we're going to these lessons.  (Yes, we occasionally skip lessons, just for the sake of spontaneity and relief; whose relief is more apparent, I'm not quite sure.)

I don't want her to quit before our time is up; I want her to learn the value of a follow-through.  I also don't want her to be involved in something that holds no excitement or value for her.  This was only supposed to be a fun thing; I don't harbor mother-of-a-professional-dancer aspirations within my heart.  We will stop; there are only two weeks of class left to get through.

But then, as I watch, the silken scarves come out.  Every girl, from the tallest to the middlest (though not the smallest -- that's my Mia) have chosen a shade of pink with which to free-dance around the room before tapping begins.  I know the scarf box holds a rainbow of options, but pink wins the majority.

Not with my Mia.  She chooses blue.  A gash of lightning across the black and pink mist.  A floating sliver of bright sky within the stormy, rosy clouds. 

Her scarf stands out and I follow it with my eyes over and under the complete vagueness of monotony.  She swoops and dives, twirls and -- I swear -- executes a lovely, beginner's version of fouette en tournant, spinning around on the ball of one foot while her opposite leg wraps gracefully behind her knee. 

The blue scarf trails from a tiny arm, a clutched hand, and she is distinct.  One.  Single and independent. 

Just as her heart desires. 

I won't force ballet to continue, though I do question her adamant denial that she enjoys it: her face glows with drama and pride during each lesson.  If not for blending in and being overshadowed by the group, I don't know what else it could be.  Not having any friends in the class?  The long, boring drive on otherwise beautiful mornings?

But instead of pushing this, I'll focus on the positive, and we'll move forward.  She's learned a great deal this year, she's not afraid to try something new, and she loves to free-dance with airy scarves. 

In fact, I foresee a box of silken scarves in our future.  From which she can paint rainbows of dance with whatever glorious colors best fit her mood that day.  She can stand out if she wants, or blend in -- it makes no difference to me.

Except that in whatever she chooses, I want her to love it with the same passion that she loves being herself.

We're seeing the Bigger Picture through simple moments -- moments that force us to stop and take notice of the ways our worlds are important, meaningful, and beautiful.  Please join us today at Alita's place!  Grab the button, link up and share your Bigger Picture with us!


  1. Such beautiful imagery here, Sarah. I could almost see her floating through the dance studio, blue scarf trailing behind her small body. :)

  2. This was really lovely! What gorgeous descriptions ... and such compelling issues, too. I'm really captivated by Mia's response to blending. So moving!

  3. Wonderful! So interesting that Mia wants to stand out. Good for her!

  4. Dude.


    Really... I have no words. Again, I love your writing. As you know. And you need to write a novel (or 10) so I can gobble them up. uh... now. :)

  5. I love this too. A whole darn lot. It's 11-something here (why am I up?!) but I really wanted to commented on this because it's so endearing and wonderful. I just love the heart you have for your children and how very hard you work to raise them well.

  6. totally love this! sometimes all it takes is a year off and she will come back more ready for the structure and learning. My grand-daughter loves dance now, it just took that extra year. Sometimes, you try a lot of different things until you find the one thing they love above all others. Then you let them fly.


Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?