I remember taking my older daughter to dance class at this same school, with these same teachers, many years ago, when she was little herself. The school has moved to a better location, but it's just so surreal to be back in this place again, after so many years. Just helping her with her ballet shoes and leotard was starting to take me back, but actually sitting here.... I used to sit through just about every Saturday class with my older daughter, soaking up the five positions and the seven ways to move and even some tap while working on some writing. There's something about the motion and sounds and all the commotion that stirs up those writing wells and makes it easier to get words out. Seems counterintuitive, but there it is.
The thing is, at this moment, the baby is doing absolutely nothing. Not a thing. Unless, that is, standing and staring blank-faced into the mirror like a train is coming straight at you is doing something. Maybe it's a kind of expressionist dance, a comment on the confusion and despair we all sometimes feel in the face of a decaying and polluted environment. The teacher is trying so hard, too, valiantly, even. She moves the baby's feet and arms, puts her into the correct positions, but the arms drop as soon as she lets them go. It wasn't like that with her sister at all, the show-off. Her sister would do all the movements and then some, making up some of her own flourishes to add to the moves, and still dancing after the music was finished. She never had a problem with dancing in front of people, not even when it was hundreds of them at the recitals and she was on stage under the bright lights. This girl, on the other hand, is having a hard time. I don't know if it's the physical reminder that I've got one kid in college and one in pre-K, or just the striking difference in personalities that gets me, but I am bugging out a little.
And why isn't this child dancing, anyway? Why is she still just standing there like a floppy stuffed bear sitting in the corner of some spoiled kid's bedroom? She was so excited to start dance school, practically jumped into her leotard and shoes, and wanted to go since last week. She must have tapped every tile in the house with those tap shoes before she took the off a couple, of days ago. There's only three girls here, including her, and now she acts like this is the worst idea ever. It's all so familiar, but all so different at the same time.
One other thing that's different this time, in a good way, is that my wife is sitting next to me, watching this train wreck. When my older daughter was dancing, from three-years-old all the way up to about thirteen, when she quit, it was always something just between me and her, me sitting through classes and writing when she was little, and then sitting in the lobby of the studio when she was bigger, and writing. It's weirdly good to be doing this with my woman this time, sharing the moments and feelings with her. Right now most of those feelings are shame and embarrassment, but I'm sure others will come.
I think that's the major difference in this phase of my life, this era of starting over, is that I don't feel like I'm on my own so often.
And what's even better, the baby is actually starting to dance. Just thirty minutes in to the class, she's tentatively trying some of the stretches and some of the moves. Fifteen minutes more, and she's doing her pizza delivery glide across the room, one hand on her hip and the other holding her imaginary pizza box, while "Circle of Life" plays over the sound system.
So different and yet so familiar.
If the missus wants to keep coming to classes, maybe another difference could be that instead of sitting through every class, we could step out and just have some breakfast together sometimes, and let the baby dance on her own.