Monday, April 23, 2012

Dance Bench

.. by jpnuwat
.., a photo by jpnuwat on Flickr.
We buy their first ballet shoes and the dozens thereafter. We buy their leotards, their tutus, their warm-up’s, their bags and their gear. We take them to classes. Some of us lots and lots of classes. We do their hair. We volunteer at their performances, doing makeup, folding programs, ushering patrons, sewing costumes. We are the drivers, the cheerleaders, the shoulder to cry on. We get nervous before performances and auditions. We’re there for the triumphs, the heartbreaks and the drama.

And then the music starts and we start to ask questions. Where is my place now? Is it waiting in the wings? Watching from the audience? At home clearing away the dishes from dinner? Sitting at Tim Horton’s until the class is over? Sometimes we get it right . Sometimes, we miss the mark completely because, like most things in childrearing, there are no operating instructions. We are, once again, clueless.

Then we see the bench. This place is as good as any, we think to ourselves, and so we sit down and watch. And watch. And wait. Soon, we are joined by others. Some bring books. Some bring conversation. Everyone, though, brings a child and, before we know it, a community is formed. A community of watchers.

And watch we do! We marvel at what their bodies can achieve and secretly wonder where they go when the music transports them to another place. We watch as they grasp at opportunities to learn. About setting and achieving goals. Missing out on the audition. Or, not getting a mark or a role or an outcome they had hoped for. For some watchers, these last few lessons are the hardest ones and they find themselves fighting some difficult urges. They worry over every disappointment while they are watching on the other side of the glass. They wish for magical cloaks that might protect their precious charges from heartbreak. They want to slip off the bench and fix their problems. These are the moments of pure opportunities for them. And for us.

But if you sit on the bench long enough, a revelation will occur. The bench will reveal itself. But here’s the catch: you have to be prepared to stay seated, to quiet your mind and let those who are being watched truly be watched. Only then can you know the secret. And it’s this: This is the place where you end and your child begins. You made those wings their flying with. Let them soar.

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