Warning. Things are about to get mushy.
You’ve heard me say this a lot, but my eldest child is a carbon copy of his indulgent father. He looks like him, talks like him, thinks like him. They have similar reactions to things. Neither of them see it, but as someone who loves both of them beyond reason, I may be the world’s foremost authority on each of them individually.
What you have also heard me say is that my younger child is a carbon copy of me, just…well, he’s a boy. He looks like me. Talks like my grandmother, GiGi, of whom I am a carbon copy. Has a dramatic flair, is irrationally entertaining. He experiences and expresses love through his body, and when he wants to show you affection, will hug you so tight your head pops off.
While he should, theoretically, given his relatively easygoing nature, be easy to love, I find that sometimes he is too much like me to love.
This says waaaaay more about how I feel about myself than how I feel about him. Do we agree on that?
Well, my youngest, as I mentioned, is a kinesthetic kinda guy. He learns and apprehends the world through movement and touch. He is a whirling dervish with a keen sense of his surroundings and the physical capabilities of others.
He was accepted at the Conservatory this year in a first year dance class. This was entirely an accident. You see, last year, I messed up when trying to get him registered for first year music class. So this year, I registered early and put him down for both music and dance, thinking that maybe if I did it that way, I could assure him a slot somewhere at the Conservatory.
I’m very cautious, usually, to not project my own failed ambitions onto this child, because, like I said, he is very much like me. I don’t want him to live with the weight of having to live out my dreams for me.
Music was important to me growing up, and their indulgent father has always said he regretted not getting a formal music education. So Conservatory was how we agreed to go about this. It doesn’t hurt that it is a three minute walk from the apartment.
But I get this irrepressible excitement when I picture him dancing. In part because he’s naturally elegant:
I also, yes, get nostalgic about my own early love of whirling and dervishing.
I was afraid that something would happen to discourage him from wanting to go to his dance class. His brother, teasing him about going to “ballet” did not help matters. I was afraid that there would be no other boys there, and that he would feel duped.
I quietly went to the Conservatory cooperative store, where you can buy second hand music scores, Method books and dance clothes. I bought him his black dance leggings and white Lycra t-shirt, the uniform for first year boys in the dance program.
I almost didn’t tell him that he had to wear something special to his dance class. I was afraid an outright refusal would ensue (because he is just like me and hates being told what to wear.)
But, after couching the announcement in just the right way, he was actually excited about it. And he wanted to try it on. And he looked suddenly very grown up. (That’s him being John Travolta channeling Baryshnikov up top.)
We were lucky. There were two other boys in his dance class, plus a lot of little girls in lavender leotards and plum tights.
He always stands straight as an arrow, and my little heart pitter pattered as I watched the studio assistant lead the class away into the depths of the dance wing, to which parents are not permitted, my littlest man, although not the tallest in the group, head and shoulders above the rest.
His first week was great. He confessed to having enjoyed it.
But in the second week it was hard to get him motivated. I know all about this…the dread of commitments is, unfortunately, one of the character traits I passed on to my mini-me.
When he reappeared from the studios with this exhausted grin on his face, I took his hand and urged him homeward, trying not to ask too many questions, hoping he would volunteer something.
The most info I got was that his teacher, Vincent, told him to try walking like a hippo, which he did really well. (Are we surprised?)
Once out on the street, he was barely moving forward. Can it be? Is it true? This child is worn out!
I leaned down to him, my head and shoulders above the rest nearly six year old, and I asked, “May I carry you?” He yawned, smiled and held his arms up. His little legs went around my waist, his arms nearly popping my head off once he was settled.
We were walking into the sunshine down a busy sidewalk. I was advancing blindly.
“Hold me closer tiny dancer…” I sang.
Usually, he shouts “STOP SINGING” when I even put together two words that sound remotely musical. NOTHING.
Hold me closer, tiny dancer
Count the headlights on the highway
Lay me down in sheets of linen
You had a busy day today
I don’t know, I can’t know….I don’t even want to know what the future holds in store for him. What I know is that today, he is living his best life.
And so am I.