Monday, September 12, 2011

I Hope You Dance

Lucas and I are sitting on a bench watching two street performers at Granville Island. It's a hot, hot September Saturday and we've ended up here on a whim following Lucas' urge to see the boats. We are watching a funky man and woman sing their version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". He's plunking strings on his base and she's singing, he's got a pink top hat and she's got a black dress with pink polka dots. When the song ends, I hand Lucas a loonie, and he pulls me with him to throw it into their guitar case.

"Thank you, thank you," they sing and then start into their next song, "I Want to Be Like You" from the Jungle Book.

"Wanna dance?" I ask Lucas. He nods and starts swaying side to side with a big grin on his face.

I take one of his hands since my other is holding this giant baguette that Lucas picked from the French bakery when I told him he could have a treat. We're the only one dancing in the space between the crowd and the performers, so we're getting some attention. An elderly couple behind are smiling warmly as Lucas does some deep knee bends that are modelled after the dancing robot he has at home. I spin Lucas under my arm over and over while he giggles.

When the song ends, we clap loudly and are surprised when the base player announces, "And let's hear it for the baquette dancers!" I can't even look up while the small audience claps for us, but Lucas smiles to everyone.

And as we run into the market so we can buy our favourite sausages to bring home for the BBQ, I find myself biting my lip to hold back tears. And on the drive home, as he dozes to sleep in his car seat, I find my mind wondering if he'll remember this afternoon. Maybe not the details of walking on the docks or playing in the Kids Market, but would he remember the "just do it"-ness of our spontaneous hour on the island?

I remember my father's guiding words as I grew up. "You might regret not doing it later." He knew I would regret not swimming because I was self-conscious about how I looked in a bathing suit. He knew I'd regret not dancing even if I didn't have a partner. He knew I'd regret not going for a new job just because I was worried I wouldn't get it. So, I jumped in the pool and I asked the boys to dance and I put myself out there for jobs I wasn't qualified.

And there were times I was laughed at. And times I failed. And many, many times I was so very uncool. 

But then I remember my mother's quiet but ever present support. Taking me to that rollerblading race that was completely out of my league, and being proud that I just finished. Keeping her laughs to herself as I interviewed my stuffed animals for a radio show, dressed up like my favourite rock singer, and choreographed dance routines in the hallways. So, I kept doing my own thing because I was always free to do it.

And later in my teens and early twenties, I found myself tucking that Liesl away, trying to play the part of good student, good girlfriend, good worker. I called it growing up.

And now as mother, I am officially the grown up. But I get to be a kid again when I am with my son. I get to dance in the middle of a square. I get to run along the dock chasing birds. I get to eat too much ice cream. And maybe that sounds irresponsible, but in my eyes, I'm teaching him the same valuable lessons I learned from my parents.

That life is in the doing. It's in the trying, the tasting, the going, the being. It's not in the watching and waiting.

And as I grow older, I find that I have to remind myself of this. As I settle down in familiar patterns and feel cautious against change, I have to remember not to become complacent. As I worry over money or jobs, I have to keep faith in who I am and that I've always been able to land on my feet. As I wonder how I can handle more, I have to just try.

And I have to keep dancing on a whim because the music moves me. 

One day when Lucas is older, we'll be out and an awesome tune will come on, and I will try and pull him up to dance. But this time, he'll shake his head and dart his eyes to the ground. There will probably be a two-syllable, moaning "Mo-om" to describe his embarassment that I would even suggest this, followed by him shrugging his hand away. And I won't force him. But I hope I will still dance anyway. 

To that Lucas, I say: 

"I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat
But always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed
I hope you still feel small
When you stand by the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Promise me you'll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance."
- Lee Ann Womack

2 comments:

Naomi said...

Liesl,
I LOVE this so much. I too feel so vulnerable sometimes with my daughter to time's changes. But still, I want to remember these lessons for myself too. Thank you for writing this.
~ Naomi

essay said...
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