Learning The Steps

Walking to the birthday party from our car Olivia shared with me how excited she was to go to a Hip Hop dance Birthday Party.

“I’ve always wanted to try Hip Hop mommy!” She smiled and skipped as we walked into the building where the party was being held.

“Quick quick Olivia. We don’t want to miss too much.”  I urged her.

Walking down the stairs to the dance room I could feel her happiness to be with one of her very best friends on her special day.

The party had started. We were late.Ten seven year olds sat in a circle doing their predance stretching.

“Go ahead Olivia. Go find a spot.”

“No mommy,” she said taking my hand.

“It’s ok Olivia. There’s a spot right ….”

There wasn’t an open spot for her to just jump right in.  I scanned the room trying to make eye contact with one of the girls that Olivia would know.  She knew no one. Just the birthday girl.

“Go ahead Olivia. It’s time to stretch.”

The dance instructor got the group up and began to have them do steps to loosen them up.

“No mommmmmy. I want to go!” she urged.

Tears began to stream from her eyes.  She grabbed me tight and buried her head in my side.

My plan was to I was to just drop her at the party and then go to the local Starbucks to write.  I wanted these two hours.   Suddenly my wants became secondary.   It wasn’t going to happen.

“I want to leave mommy.”

I knew that instant we, I had to stay.

“What if we just sit here and watch.” I encouraged her.

“Ok.” she answered.

I scanned the room again for someone from the party that could come over and welcome her in.   The birthday girls mom came in the room.  I sighed in relief.

“Ohhhh she could help,” I thought easing my stress.

A quick break in the action happened and Olivia’s friend came running over to her asking her to come dance. Olivia buried her head in my arm and just could not do it.

“What was I going to do?  Was she going to sit with me the whole party?  What would this mean for other parties?” I worried and wondered.

Suddenly I felt a calm come over me.  We came late.  She only knows one or two girls.  How many adults could walk into a room of strangers and just join in dancing in front of strangers?  I couldn’t.  How could I expect Olivia to.  So we sat.  We watched and I softly spoke to her about what I saw.

“Look at those girls dancing.  Not all of them are doing it perfectly, are they?” I whispered. “Looks like everyone is just trying their best, dancing to the music.” whispered some more.

Slowly Olivia’s tears began to dry and her grip of my arm lessened.   She watched.   She smiled.  We clapped to the music and she began to enjoy being there.

“Water break!” the dance instructor shouted.

Like magic Olivia’s friend (the birthday girl) and another old friend from preschool appeared.

“Come dance with us Olivia!” they said to her.

Olivia looked at me.

“It’s her birthday Olivia.  Do it for her,” I whispered gently.

With her eyes locked on me she smiled and nodded.

“Ok!” she said holding her friends hand and walking onto the dance floor.

The birthday girls mother sat next to me.

“Did you do that?” I asked.

“Yes” she smiled.

“Thank you so much.”

Olivia walked onto the dance floor.   The dance instructor smiled at her, came to her and warmly welcomed her giving her a high five.  Olivia was front and center, in minutes,  learning the dance moves to the big dance number.    I sat there I soaking in my momma pride.  I hadn’t pushed.  I didn’t yell, get firm or try to hard.   I took a step back and tuned into where Olivia was at.  I respected her and her feelings.  I gently made sure she learned that she could feel this way and still be brave enough join in. Finally, after many, many moments of stepping on each others toes, missed steps and disastrous numbers Olivia and I had finally gotten all the steps right. What a beautiful number we danced…together.  You should have seen her dance!!


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3 Replies to “Learning The Steps”

  1. There’s something to be said for knowing when to be tough and when to be tender. Kudos for recognizing what Olivia needed that day, at her friend’s party. You are a wonderful mommy btw! I should know, I’ve seen it first hand! 🙂

  2. One of the things I adore about you is your willingness to listen….to your friends, to your colleagues, to your students, to your daughters….And this post shows how that listening allows you to use the love in your heart to empower those of us who share our fears with you. xoxo #youhavemyvote
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