As much as I like to be funny, sometimes the serious things bully the funny thoughts right out of my brain. All I'm left with are big burly negative observations while the funny ideas are off pouting in the recesses of my mind.
Take today for example. I woke up in a foul mood and things that I normally find amusing made me want to throttle someone. The cat batting at my eyes for instance.
So, I take Savannah to dance class. Her instructor is a Nazi and if you don't believe me try being three minutes late ONCE and see how she looks past you like a blind person whenever you try to talk to her for the rest of the season. Anyway, of course I'm running late, which makes me start to cry a little in the car as we race over there - one hand on the steering wheel, the other swinging Savannah around in the backseat by her hair trying to fashion it into the required "ballerina bun".
We arrive two minutes late and while it is apparent that this has not gone unnoticed by Ms. Dance Fever, she is still acknowledging our presence; a good sign. I wrestle Savannah into a waytoosmall costume since all of the larges are taken and go wait outside with the other moms. (I could make this post about how the other moms act like I'm a leper, but I'll save that for a day when I actually give a shit.)
So, as I'm standing there at the glass still buzzing with race-the-clock anxiety, I start watching my daughter follow the instructor.
I slowly feel myself relax. I watch her little body awkwardly attempting the tough dance moves. She 'plies' and 'glissades' and does a 'pas de chat'. Her eyes never leave the instructor. Her face is set in concentration. She is off beat and out of step. She is stamping her foot heavily when she should be touching it down lightly. She is clumsily skipping at an angle instead of gracefully gliding.
And she's never looked more beautiful to me.
She doesn't know that she is being watched and this makes me well up. She is trying so hard and it isn't for me or for her father. It's for herself. She wants to do this so badly. And the fact that she has the confidence at four years old to push through these difficult moves over and over week after week trying to get it perfect, fills me with pride. I'm not only proud of her, I'm proud of us as parents.
I look at her back as she stands in line waiting her turn at the 'pas de deux' with the instructor and I see myself as a little girl.
I remember the way I would feel in class settings. My mother would have been crying as she dropped me off at school. She would have smiled through her tears as she kissed me goodbye, told me to have a good day. I would have run to my class as we would have been very late. As I stood at that window looking at my daughter I suddenly recalled so vividly what it felt like to be me then. I would have sat in class unable to hear the teacher, unable to relate to the other kids, my head full of the hateful words my parents had been spitting just moments before. The sound of my father yelling, my mother screaming at him over my head as she brushed my hair. The way he looked like he hated us when he was angry. The screaming. The crying. The threats. The hate. I remember feeling so lost. So different. So out of place. So incompenent. So invisible. So worried.
Although I did well in school, it was only due to the schoolwork being an excuse to not interact with the other kids. I don't recall ever making a concerted effort to make myself proud. To push myself. To keep trying after I failed. The last thing I wanted was to stand out.
So, to see my daughter push herself; to know that her little mind was clear of distraction, of self-loathing, made me fight tears.
If Chris and I mess up a million times as parents (and we're pretty close, I'm sure) I have at least given my daughter peace in her own skin. And I am incredibly proud of myself for that.