Tag Archives: childhood

End of the Year Dance Recital

Saturday was Kepler’s spring recital for his dance class. I have no pictures to post today because they are all on the cameras and phones of other people. I chose to leave my phone at home and off on Saturday. I was just really tired of the non-stop pull toward my phone. Without my phone attached to me, I was aware of how often my thoughts went to using my phone for something or other. It was a nice respite, and I may do it more, but I do feel it is important for me to be accessible to my family, and that means having my phone handy.

At any rate, Saturday was the big day. The dance studio we go to is a highly competitive, very popular place. It’s also not close to our home at all. We make the drive because they offer the class for kids with special needs and Kepler loves everything about it. His dance was about halfway through the program and his group got some seriously enthusiastic applause and cheers. I loved seeing him up there, center stage, waving enthusiastically to us. I don’t even know how he could see us, but he did.

Prior to Kepler’s dance, I found myself growing more and more dismayed and disgusted by what I was seeing and hearing onstage. Even my 16yo daughter noticed that the dances did not seem appropriate at all for the ages of the girls. I went back and forth about this in my head because it has become more and more obvious to me that I’m not in the happening generation and I’m beginning to understand how and why older people have complaints about how younger people act, speak, dress, and exist.

The problem as I see it is that little girls were up there shaking their little booties, and doing other movements and motions that seemed very sexualized to me. The trend in dance is to have highly made-up faces, large glue-on eye designs, sparkly SPARKLY outfits, and lots of accessories like shiny gloves. Here’s a photo of a couple of girls from our studio:

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Does it affect a little girl’s childhood to be regularly dressing like this and dancing like this? There was one group of girls who did basic ballet, and they were dressed in more traditional tutus. That seemed beautiful to me. The rest of it just seemed mostly trashy, not to mention the pounding dance party music that was blasting through the speakers while the little girls “shook their thang.”

Do we actually want children to have a childhood? What does that even mean anymore? My daughter is in a show choir now at 16 and dances. Even her choreographed dances are more tasteful than what I saw on Saturday. She has never taken dance classes, and I looked at her Saturday and said well, I guess we made the right decision because there is no way I would have ever been ok with this. (N.B. I made no decision — it was simply a matter of not deciding to make dance classes happen — there are dance classes that are wonderful for children that I would have been happy for her to be a part of.)

Perhaps there are feminism issues at play here. I’m not sure. I’m all for little girls dancing, and exuberantly at that. I am just wondering if we parents might want to think about what we are promoting when we put our precious little children on stage, dressed like strumpets, to the music of Snoop Dog, imitating Beyonce’s dance moves..

Kepler and The Boomerang

This . . .

boomerang

is, of course, a boomerang. A dear friend sent it to me from Australia about 13 years ago. I have displayed it, enjoyed it, moved it, lost it, found it, but until today, I had never played with it.

This . . .

Kepler

is, of course, Kepler. Here he is at his first baseball practice last night, rockin’ the swag, just having a ball. Kepler saw the boomerang today and decided it was to be played with and he invited me to come out and play.

As we played, I began to notice some real differences in how he plays compared to how I play. As we would race to the boomerang, he would throw his body to the ground hoping to get that extra oomph that would help him get to the boomerang before I could. I thought about how extremely injured I would get if I threw my body to the ground like that.

While on the ground, he would grab a dandelion or three and blow dandelion fuzz (cause kids’ll blow dandelion fuzz, according to the Snowman song from Frozen). He blew the seeds lustily, joyfully, and without a care in the world. All I could see was all the new dandelions that were going to sprout in our dandelion ocean front yard in a few days.

Kepler runs all out, all the time. We’d throw the boomerang and then he’d urge me on, “FASTER!” All I could think about was I wonder if my fitbit is getting all these steps recorded, while I tried different methods of trying to look as though I were running (such as the running in slow motion trick).

Once I convinced him we should pause to get the mail. He threw the boomerang to distract me from going to the mailbox. He got there first, and then when he finally got the sticky door open, he shouted, “MAILBOX!” When’s the last time you or I shouted mailbox when we opened it?

Once I convinced him I was tired and needed to sit on the swing for a few minutes. He escorted me to the swing, looked me in the eye and encouraged me to breathe in one breath deeply (something he has learned from his bouts with croup), and once I demonstrated I could do that, it was time to play again.

While playing, Kepler teases, laughs, jumps, twirls, and invites me with his every motion and word to join in with him. While playing, I feel like I creak, lumber, waddle, and wonder when it will be over. I think I’d have to play a little more and little more regularly to get to the place where I thought to tease, laugh, jump, twirl, and just lose track of time, but that sounds like a lot of work fun.

N is for Narrative – The Stories that we Tell

Stories speak to me.

When I watched Before Midnight (Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy) with Greg last spring, I knew exactly what they meant about how relationships change with the addition of children, aging, and the general difficulties of life.

When I watched The Big Chill years ago, I knew exactly what they meant by each of us needing and finding hope in something.

When I read David Foster Wallace, I am touched in the deepest part of me by his descriptions of depression, watching Roger Federer, being with people, the pain and banality of the extremes of rote work.

Each of us tells a story about our lives, carrying this unwritten autobiography in our hearts and mind, often unaware of the overarching themes we are living out.

Author Jim Loehr has written a book called, The Power of Story: Change Your Story, Change Your Destiny. This book is on my to-read list, but the title is enough for this post, as it explains my beliefs about the story we tell ourselves about our lives.

What I have come to accept about my story is that I get to tell it however I would like to tell it. Take for instance the fact of the story that I broke my leg when I was two years old. That is indisputable, although you would be hard-pressed to find any hospital records from that long-ago time. I was on the neighbor’s slide, climbing up and sliding down again and again. That slide was missing a step, so you had to step up really big to the next step. When my father came home from work and came around the side of the house to the backyard where we all were, I saw him and was so excited he was home. I forgot at that moment that I needed to step up really big, so I stepped into thin air, fell, and ended up with a broken bone.

So far, those are all facts. But it’s what I tell about that story that has such an important impact on my understanding of who I am. What if I conclude that I am clumsy or dumb because I missed that step? What if I conclude that my father intentionally distracted me? What if my story is that I loved my father so much that I was beside myself with joy when he got home? What if I decide that I should never have been on that slide anyway at such a young age?

Add those little interpretive details to story after story after story and eventually we have a big repository of stories that confirm our beliefs about ourselves.

I can’t possibly overemphasize how much there is that we do not know. And because we do not know, we make decisions based on trust. I remember, like it was yesterday, the sight of my dad appearing in the back yard at the end of his work day, and I can remember my excitement at seeing him! Dad was home! My fun dad was home and I knew I’d be laughing and giggling and playing with him that evening.

For awhile in my life, my story was that it’s dangerous to be excited to see someone! (Children are really great at perceiving, but really not great at interpreting.) Little me knew I had experienced some intense pain almost instantly after some intense joy, and concluded that loving someone means I’m going to get hurt really badly.

How has that interpretation influenced me over the course of my life? And how does a new interpretation of that experience change how I see myself and my experience of life in the world?

What about you? What stories are you telling about your life that you would like to revise?