Delaney has her first dance recital this weekend, which totally cracks me up. She's 2 1/2 and she's in a recital? What kind of over-the-top-uber-mommy makes her kid take part in a recital at such a young age? But it's not about overachieving, I assure you. Or, so I thought.
She's in the "older 2s" class in her preschool and kids in that class are eligible to take dance class. She expressed an interest so back in September I enrolled her. It's adorable beyond belief to watch her demonstrate the steps (both ballet and tap) that they've learned in class and to hear her recite aloud exactly what she's doing with each step ("Pleeee-AY, relllllll-AAAA-VAY! Shuffle, step, shuffle, step.").
Both family and friends are attending the early-morning (9am!) recital this Saturday and everyone's said they can't wait to watch the two-year-olds performing their dance routines. I guess the recital's been on my mind a lot lately because last night I couldn't stop dreaming about it. But in my dream Delaney refused to wear the assigned costume. She wouldn't dance and kept leaving the stage to chat with me or my mom or her cousins and she completely disrupted the entire performance. I woke up stressed out and worried that that could happen. But then it hit me. What on earth is up with that? When did conformity and compliance become paramount as characteristics that I expect my two-year-old to display?
What if Delaney does deviate from the program? What if she causes a ruckus? So what! The last thing I want is to start expecting--even demanding--from her "socially appropriate" behavior at the tender age of two. There'll be plenty of time for that later, trust me. Kids rarely get to be kids for long these days what with the technology we shove in their faces practically from birth and with the high standards we set for following directions and going along with the crowd. I understand the importance of teaching respect for authority figures and listening to teachers and parents. But why can't we let kids go their own way, at least for the first few years of their lives, and let them be truly and wholeheartedly who they are? Because who they are--amazing little people who are comfortably lacking in any worries about what other people think--is terrifically beautiful. That special brand of indifference to what other people think is exactly what I want to engender in my young daughter.
So if Delaney decides to go her own way on Saturday, or if any of the kids do, I'll applaud them. I'll silently beam with pride at the little souls who haven't yet learned to stifle themselves just to please a crowded church hall audience.