When I was pregnant with the girls, I printed out the lyrics to the song "I Hope You Dance" by Lee Ann Womack and posted them near my desk at work. Since my girls' birth, I want to cry every time I read the lyrics, or hear that song on the radio. I had hope for the child that I did not yet know when I was pregnant. Now my hope for them is even deeper and more intense..both literally and figuratively. I hope they dance.
Holland and Eden's first dance class meant a lot to me on many levels. More than I even knew. I had kind of put it off...thought it wasn't a real possibility and did not feel up for another fight. I was sure I did not have the reserve for rejection in any form, and for that reason I decided not to pick this particular battle. I was afraid. Afraid of what I might face in asking if the girls could join a "normal" dance class. Afraid of the negative or fearful attitudes of parents and teachers that I might come up against. Afraid that having them in a dance class might make people uncomfortable at some level, and hence make me and them uncomfortable. It didn't seem worth it, even though I wouldn't have admitted that out loud.
What happened instead, is that my sister approached her girls' dance teacher and asked if she would be open to having my girls in the Petites class (ages 3-5) with two of their cousins (Claire and Kate). The teacher, Ms. Darcy, was very open and encouraging. She changed the time of the class so we could attend, and enlisted the help of another cousin (Jenna) to help Eden.
I was nervous going into it. It was something new, and I wasn't sure what to expect. Well, ultimately it turned out to be a very positive experience for all of us.
The program was just right for us in that it was not too over the top. I had imagined a group of picture perfect little girls in tutus, in a perfect little studio dancing in front of a mirror with a bunch of stage moms there to put their child's hair back in place if their pony tail slipped or to fix their makeup if their lipstick was smudged. Not for us. Instead it was a community education based class, affordable, with kids from a variety of backgrounds. It was held in the cafeteria of a school that runs a Headstart program. It was low key and low pressure, but at the same time organized and very fun!
A huge part of the reason the whole experience was so positive for us was Ms. Darcy. Darcy is young (in her mid-twenties), and clearly passionate about what she does. She teaches at the middle school level, in addition to teaching dance for several years. From the time we first met her she put my mind at ease. She was interested and completely willing to accommodate whatever needs Eden had..though it turned out she didn't need a whole lot. Eden just wanted to dance.
Some people don't know how to interact with kids who have disabilities. Ms. Darcy was not that way. From the first day she "clicked" with the girls, and appeared very confident and capable when working physically with Eden. More than many people, she really seemed to treat her just like all of the other girls. She challenged her, praised her, and even reprimanded her on a couple of occasions:) I never once felt like she felt "put out" in any way by having us there and I appreciated that more than I can say. She loved and accepted the girls, and they loved her right back. There were many, many evenings that they requested that I *be* Ms. Darcy so we could pretend to be at dance class!
Unfortunately the girls were sick, sick, sick in the days leading up to their recital. They were diagnosed with pneumonia on Tuesday and started antibiotics - the recital was on Saturday. We were just barely better *enough* to make it, and I fully admit to doctoring them up a bit so we could do it. I timed the breathing treatments, Motrin, meals, and naps so they would be feeling as well as possible and it worked out pretty well.
There were a few technical difficulties with the lights and sound, and one of the little girls in Holland and Eden's class flat out refused to go out on stage. She was the only girl who wasn't their cousin, so it ended up being five little girls from my family:) Despite these little glitches, the girls managed to do a good job and entertained us all.
They were ABSOLUTELY ADORABLE!!! They were the cutest kids in the show!!!
Okay, okay. That might just be my opinion. But, I was very proud because they both went out there and did their best. Eden was a ham. She remembered a lot of her moves, and looked to the bigger girls when she wasn't sure what to do. She had a smile on her face the whole time and was very excited to be on stage. Holland was not as sure of herself. She stood in one spot and chewed on her fingernails until her cousins took her hands and dragged her along. At the end of the show, they were all supposed to march off the stage. Holland stood there like a statue until her cousin Jenna came back to get her. When Jenna picked her up, Holland wrapped her little body around her and gave a big smile to the audience. It was really adorable. And uncanny in the fact that John predicted to the tee how they would act on the stage! I am pretty sure we would have had the same reaction if they had been completely well. Eden is a ham, and Holland gets a little overwhelmed when she is the center of attention.
No matter how you look at it...they danced.
**On a more somber note, I cannot write a post about Holland and Eden's dance recital and not mention some recent tragic news. Just this past Sunday I got a call from my sister to inform me that Ms. Darcy was in a horrible car accident the night before. She has lost the ankle and foot on one of her legs. It looks like they will be able to save her other foot, although I am not sure it is out of the woods completely yet.
I have been feeling very sad the past few days trying to absorb this news. There is so much in life that is so scary, unpredictable, and completely unfair. I don't even know what else to say. I told Holland and Eden about the accident today. Holland asked the question, "so she can't walk anymore?" And Eden chimed in, in the way that only she could do, and said excitedly, "Ms. Darcy can just use a wheelchair like MEEEE!"
I told Eden that maybe she would...but just for a little while. Because I KNOW Ms. Darcy will walk again. I know she will dance again.
Ms. Darcy -
I HOPE YOU DANCE