Thursday, May 10, 2012

In her element

My daughter is a perfectionist. At four years old, she demands way too much of herself. She wants to do big girl things, and she wants to do them properly, and with ease, and on the first try. She drives herself (and her mom) crazy with these great expectations of hers. Our days are filled with frustrations, with tears, with disappointments, all stemming from self-imposed standards that are, in my opinion, simply too high.

But for reasons I have yet to figure out, the stress of being a four-year-old perfectionist flies out the window when she's dancing. It's not that she's a particularly gifted dancer, or that she shows signs of being some sort of ballet prodigy. Her piqués and sautées look just as awkward as those of the other four and five year olds in her class. She knows all the steps to her routine, but sometimes does them just a beat behind. Sometimes she forgets a cue or stops too early, causing quite a train wreck behind her when she's leading the line of tiny ballerinas in circles around the stage. She's not bad at it, as far as I can tell. For her age and level of experience, she's pretty good, actually. We're just not saving up for Julliard anytime soon.

And what is most impressive about Abby on stage in her bright purple tutu is just that. She's not great at it.

She is good at it, to be certain. But the greatness she expects of herself when it comes to reading, or riding a bike, or any other skill for that matter, isn't there yet. And she doesn't seem to mind.

She is totally in her element in her dance class and up on the big stage at her recital. She smiles that rare I-really-mean-it smile because she is truly enjoying herself. She misses a beat, or forgets a step, and she shrugs it off and keeps right on twirling, skipping, dancing, with a great big grin on her face that tells me she is loving every minute of it.

Maybe one day she'll be a world-class ballerina. She talks often of the day when she can audition for The Nutcracker. We tell her to keep working hard and paying attention, and when she's old enough we'll take her to try out for the coveted role of Sugar Plum Fairy.

But if she only ever does it for fun, and for the sparkly costume, and so that, in her words, she can "praise God with her whole body" the way her teacher told her, I will be just as proud a dance mom as ever.

No comments:

Post a Comment