Yesterday was my oldests last day of preschool. There was a potluck to celebrate. The room was packed. Two classes of preschoolers, their parents, siblings and a few grandparents. First the participation awards were given. Then the eating and after that, a slideshow of photos from the school year.
As I sat there, holding my youngest, watching photos of kids in the other class I noticed the little kids up at the front of the room. Instantly, I spotted my son.
He stood in a group of his peers and danced. He was the only one. The others looked to him and back at their parents or down at their coloring books. Still, he danced.
He danced the way only he can. It’s like a combination of a ballet dancer, a monkey and a raver. Soon, a little girl joined him. They danced like they were the only two that could hear the music. They laughed.
The rest of us sat, studious, in our chairs watching a boring as hell slideshow of kids we didn’t really know. Then, one by one, the little kids joined the dancing. My heart filled and my eyes welled over.
By the time the teacher made her way to the front of the dim room and crouched down to settle the dancers many children were dancing in laps and around the legs of the adults. It never once occurred to me to make my son stop dancing. It never occurred to me that he shouldn’t just jump up and dance when his heart felt the music.
My heart crushed for each of the children that were subdued. I watched as parents crept between chairs to follow what the teacher did. Quiet those precious souls.
I understand why the teacher softly quieted the dancing sprites. I get that there is a social decorum and that the slideshow was important.
The moment was then. A magical thing, all these little kids just living and laughing and being. The photos were the past. It gave me such pause that my breath hitched and stuck in my throat.
My son still danced. Quietly and to his own rhythm. He danced. He moved away from the group and danced alone.
The music cracked and distorted as it blared out of the laptop and not one other person looked upset by the stifling of the moment. Everyone sat, awkwardly holding wiggling babies and toddlers, with bored vacant expressions on their faces.
I wanted to scream. I wanted to stand on a folding table and yell at the top of my lungs.
‘THIS IS NOW!’
The moment passed and more kids and parents shuffled as the blanket of restlessness settled and smothered. The next class slideshow came on and my husband retrieved our son to watch it. He wiggled and shifted on my husbands lap. Finally he got down to play with the other kids whose parents had given up tether.
The slideshow, to me, was a stark reminder of how much we hold onto what isn’t even happening. We place so much importance on what was that we stifle and stuff down the joy and spontaneity of what is.
My son was in nearly every photo of his class slide show. He didn’t care. He just wanted to dance.
How many of us feel restless as we stand in the checkout line or wait in traffic? How many times do we stop ourselves from humming a song in an elevator or at a doctors office? We think of what happened that day, that week, that year. We contemplate tomorrow or next year. Our jam comes on the radio, across the crackly grocery store sound system or is playing far off in the distance. Our hearts perk up for a moment and we focus on the slideshow of our life. The song is over and our being gets just a bit more dehydrated. Our joy cracks.
Dancing can be swaying, humming, bouncing or bobbing. Dancing can be just being present to the moment. Just knowing and seeing and feeling that suppression. Understanding that the feeling of restlessness stems from a deeper place. That can be the dance.
This morning, as I placed my sons breakfast in front of him, he moved his arms and swayed to a bluegrass song.
‘Mom, I always want to dance. I just have to.’
I never ever want to stifle that. Ever.