I knew there would eventually come a point in time where Little Miss Sunshine would be in a social setting and feel less-than. And I’ve been dreading that moment. My Mama heart wants to protect and maintain innocence for as long as possible. I don’t ever want my kids to feel less-than the greatness that they are, the greatness that God has created them to be. My heart aches for them to understand how incredibly they are loved, how talented they are, how beautiful they are, how engaging their personalities are, how marvelous and wonderful they are. But I know that they will face the same battles that I do – the great battle of all time that seeks to inhibit what we are meant to be.
I wasn’t prepared for it to start at age 3. Or over a pair of shoes.
I started Little Miss in a dance class at the Y. She LOVES music and LOVES to dance. It’s in her. From as soon as she could move, she felt the rhythm of everything. She’d even rock back and forth in time with the dishwasher. She’d hear background music and catch the beat when I didn’t even realize there was music playing. So I thought I’d give dance at the Y a try. It’s a good price and since it’s month-to-month, we can try it for however long she likes and not have to get all crazy about it.
I was so impressed with the teacher the first week. It’s obvious that she has a gift for dance, a gift for teaching and that she loves the kids. As she explained to me her principles, I immediately saw that this would be a good experience for Little Miss on levels much greater than dance – following instructions, learning to listen, and practicing discipline. The arts encourage so many great qualities in children. The teacher told us what she needed to bring to class and that included a pair of hard soled shoes for tap. “You don’t need to buy her tap shoes, she just needs a pair of hard soled shoes, like church shoes. We’re just learning basics and practicing putting on shoes by themselves.”
The second week Little Miss came out of class and I could tell she was holding something in. She maintained her composure until we reached the front door and then let it loose. I tried not to panic as I asked her questions trying to figure out why she was so sad. She kept telling me that all the other girls had noisy shoes and that it was loud and hurt her ears. I could understand that, but something still didn’t quite seem right and I couldn’t console her. My heart started to break.
When The Narrator got home, I asked for his help, and he was finally able to determine that the heart of the issue was that the other girls had tap shoes and she didn’t. It wasn’t that the noise hurt her ears, but that the noise they made with their shoes and she couldn’t make with hers hurt her heart. I cried. I wasn’t ready for this.
We hugged her and consoled her and encouraged her. I began to wrestle with what to do. This was just supposed to be something fun – make new friends, learn a new skill, just three-year-old fun! And this is when I really, really felt like a parent. As I pondered her personality and her gifts and her sensitivities, it became clear to me that we should look for tap shoes. This wasn’t the time to try to teach a lesson, but rather a time to love her and encourage something that she enjoys.
As I think about how badly I want her to be free to be herself and explore her talents and gifts as she grows, it speaks to me . I think about all the insecurities I have about my own talents and why I don’t pursue them and brush off compliments. I wonder if God must look at me and with a breaking heart whisper, “Don’t you see the greatness I put inside you? I love you! Be FREE! Pursue what you love! Please don’t compare yourself to everyone else!!”
Ah, the tests of parenthood and how much it shows me about my own self.