On Friday night I sat in a darkened high school auditorium and watched my girl dance under the bright stage lights. I have seen this particular dance at least a hundred times. I sat through the beginning stages of learning it, listened to the ballet teacher stop and start and stop the music again and again to work on this step or that. I helped with costumes and dress rehearsal and yet, it never got old, watching my beginning ballerina, no less serious for her inexperience than a more advanced dancer, sous-sus, plié and relevé her way through the performance.
It's not just the fun of watching your child do something wonderful, and lets face it, even if things go terribly wrong, I'm still going to think my own children are fabulous. It's seeing them be inspired by their own abilities, seeing that flush of happiness on their face at the end of the dance, when the audience is clapping and they are smiling and bowing, seeing that familiar thrill, the one I remember, sending their limbs jittering with excitement.
As much as I think to myself "That girl is a dancer!" I've never been the parent who pushes their kids into this activity or that one. In fact, I may have under-exposed them to after school activities simply due to my dread of driving all over town for lessons, classes and practices. I don't expect them to find the thing that drives them now, at eight and twelve. I don't really care much if they stick with dance and drama or float away from them and onto other things. I want them to love life. And if that means dancing four hours a day, well ok. But I'm also ok with building foam swords for a hobby. Watching Evelyn dance was heart-clenchingly sweet. One of the joys of being a parent. And I suspect I'll watch many more dances, and several plays as well for the boy, but even if I'm just watching a reenactment of Jason and the Argonauts in my front yard (it happens) just watching has turned out to be so much fun.