Thursday, August 03, 2006

future women

My daughter went to a jazz ballet class today. She's never been before, but her friend goes to this class, and Laura wanted to try it out. I sat in the foyer, spying on these miniature dancers, as they hopped and stumbled and skipped around the room. It was amazing to see that these little girls are showing already who they will be when they grow up.

One little blond looked haughty and ambitious, at the tender age of 6 or 7. She held her chin in the air, she spoke only to one or two others, and she her face was china-doll beautiful. This girl is bound to be a school prefect, and she'll probably be the Queen Bee in the 'in' group of girls. Of course, I could just have a wildly overactive imagination.

One little girl was unlikely to be the Queen Bee at school. She clumped when the others tippy-toed. She landed with a thud when the others sprang lightly. Her timing was all wrong, and her movements were awkward. She yawned and looked over at me with huge, limpid brown eyes. This doe-eyed child had thicker limbs than all the other girls, and her body was stocky. She will probably never be skinny; she may never be graceful. Her eyes were arresting. I hope someone tells her she is lovely, often.

I remember being a little girl, and I don't think I have changed much since then, in essence. At the dance class, I would have been scared, without visibly quailing. I would have been frightened of any criticism from the teacher, trying my hardest to get the moves right. If another girl had been dismissive, or mean, I would have chewed my lip, hard, trying to quell the tears. In time, I would have started to chat, getting more & more animated if anyone responded. I would have been just like the little girl yesterday with a fraying ponytail of mousy-brown hair - not outstanding, and just a little more fearful than the rest.

Yesterday, watching my daughter, I was glad for her. Because, like I would have done, she was concentrating hard, focusing on the dance steps. But between dancing, she never so much as looked like chewing her lip. She smiled, she twirled, she giggled with some of the others. Her confidence was a joy to behold. As she stepped in time to the music, and flicked her little hips side-to-side like she'd been born to wiggle (1-2, 1-2-3!), I felt my heart grow huge with pride. What a wondrous creature my daughter is! She is like me in some ways, but in many ways she is un-like me. And I couldn't be happier to know this.


Heather said...

If she was the exact replica of you, she would be a lovely, graceful, beautiful creature. I know this to be true.

But I also know the feeling of relief when realizing that our children haven't inherited some of the personality traits that made our life a little bit difficult.

Lovely post.

HORIZON said...

That is beautiful Jelly. I remember thinking similar thoughts as l watched my daughter (now almost 17) doing ballet. Isn't it great when our children astound us with their knowledge, understanding and talent?
Cherish every moment when they are young- it all passes too quickly. I had both my older children very young and your picture a few posts back reminded me of when they were small. I used to do everything with them, have them in clubs, sports etc. Now l see how it helped but am also at the stage where hormones are not the easiest to live with and even at this age they are pushing bounderies- ie. am still waiting on my son (almost 18) to get home- he has work in the morn. and will be exhausted! Will this worrying ever be over??- not likely!

Motherkitty said...

I can picture your lovely daughter out there with her mates dancing up a storm. Yes, we are happy when our children do not acquire our negative characteristics and we are equally happy when we see they are progressing normally and exhibit their own personalities. It's great that she has taken to the dance class because it can be a poise and confidence builder.

I also feel sorry for the doe-eyed girl but you have to give her a great deal of credit for trying. She will find her place in this world just as we all do.

I see the musical, dancing, and singing talent my granddaughters have and I do enjoy seeing them perform for us. They love classical music and the 5-year-old already recognizes Mozart and the Fifth Symphony. She, no doubt, will take after her mother with her musical talent. No telling what Little Sister will be like when she grows up.

Don't you just love them when they're this age?

shellyC said...

I can remember school concerts and seeing parents with tears in their eyes and (now as a parent I realise) their hearts about to burst with pride. Probably many were like you yesterday, seeing what traits they had either inherited or not and also witnessing what magnificent adults their children were going to become.

Lovely post Jelly.

Val said...

As I was reading your post, I thought: I've never wondered similar things about my sons, like anticipating what they'd be like as adult males. Is that because I couldn't empathise, being of a different gender? Was it because of a tendency to leave it to "whatever will be, will be"? Did I miss an opportunity? Although I think my mothering style is better suited to sons, I do envy you this aspect of mothering, Jelly. Enjoy!

John Cowart said...

I remember my six grown kids as children and I wonder "Where did these wonderful people come from?"

I hope you enroll her in karate classes too. I see mother/daughter ninjas in the future.

Alice said...

It's always a lovely 'shock' to realise that our children are real people, not just babies that we have to rear to adulthood. I think perhaps we (I) didn't always see this often enough.

I remember about 4 years ago all the children were here for dinner - a rare occasion in the past 15 years. We were having dinner out on the deck, as it was summertime, and I went inside to collect something. As I came out again, I glanced at the family sitting around the table, and in a 'light bulb' moment, realised that all of my children were now adults, not children any more.

Perhaps I'd been so used to having at least one 'child' around, as Sara is so much younger than the others. But she's 23 now.

Kerri said...

Oh this brings back memories, Jelly...not good ones! I went to one dance class and felt just like you described yourself. Had to relieve myself half way through and was too self-conscious to speak up and ask. I ended up wetting my pants. Never went back! It's awful to be so shy.
Kylie used to take ballet classes and I loved to watch her. She was a bit shy, but a lot more confident than me. Always has been. She'll try things I wouldn't even dream of. It pleases me greatly. I love watching all three of my children as adults. I find them so interesting!
Interestingly, there was a girl in her ballet class just like the blond you described. I see them at school in kindergarten too and always feel sad for them.
You always make me think! Thank you!

TUFFENUF said...

It is so nice to watch our children try new things. It is difficult to not yell out and tell them a better way to do something. They have to make their own sucesses and mistakes. I am still biting my lip, but now it is because I am watching my son!

Mimi said...

I was that clunky child. I muddled through and am still discovering who I am at 46. I am amazed at how much more graceful my own four daughters can be.


thisisme said...

Thanks for this post - it really started me thinking, and inspired a post of my own.

Abandoned in Pasadena said...

I was the parent who always had a tear rolling down her cheek as I proudly watched my children perform. Thankfully all of them have out-going personalities and didn't take after their shy mama.

As I attend functions with my grandson, I also sit back and watch children and I can almost see what life holds for them, by the way they interact with each other.

Very good post Jelly.

Franny said...

That is so true Jelly! My son is taking Hip-hop and he is the only boy...I wanted him to do a variety of hobbies so he finds what he really likes.

So, you can see the dynamic of the group and what they will be like when they grow up, especially with girls. By the way, my son secretly LOVES the attention he gets, being the only boy! And he dances with all the grace and timing of a gorilla among gazelles...its really funny to watch!