Still Trying to Learn the Parent Two-Step ...

The country/western two-step, often called the "Texas two-step" or simply the "two-step," is a country/western dance usually danced to country music.

As with other country/western dances, there are different versions of two step. Even the same dance may go by different names depending on the area of the U.S., and even in the particular dance hall. There may be no one "correct" way to do a particular dance.

 From Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia @

 Sometimes the greatest prize for dancing is the sheer enjoyment it brings. 

Sometimes the greatest prize for dancing is the sheer enjoyment it brings. 

I've come to believe that parenting isn't that different than dancing really.  Everybody has their own unique style; no two people do it exactly the same.  Some parents just jump onto the dance floor and the moves come naturally.  Some simply have no interest whatsoever.  I think most of us kind of just shuffle at first, but keep on trying to get better at it.  Hopefully the beat kicks in and we all end up a bit more coordinated and graceful by the time the dance is over.

There is a never-ending debate on who's actually getting it right.    The judges will never see eye to eye.  So even though most parents start off trying to learn the basic steps to please the judges, a lot of what comes later ends up being very much an improvised and personal interpretation.  In the end, most people realize that dancing and parenting is not anything they're ever going to get paid or recognized for; you simply have to do it for the sheer love of it and enjoy the simple pleasures it brings.

I'm not a great dancer, but I love to dance.  I'm not a great parent, but I love being a mom.  I don't always get it right.  I fumble a lot.  Sometimes I trip up.  Other times I'm just grooving away, then looking back I realize I was probably completely off-beat.  Even when I'm gliding across the dance floor oblivious to the judges, there is a seed of doubt in my mind that I've missed a beat.

Right now, I'm trying to capture that fluid motion I so appreciate in natural born dancers.  I'm watching Kiddo grow up; it's a new tune for both of us, and we don't yet really get the tempo changes.  We know the mood is changing, but we're not yet really sure how that translates onto the dance floor.  We do know the moves are a lot more complicated.  We know there are a few aerial flips involved, where I actually have to let go of her a bit, and these still require a lot of practice.  We're fumbling a bit. 

The last few weeks, she's been attending a summer sports camp.  She loves the social interaction, and I think she's starting to enjoy the actual "sports" component, but she's facing issues that are new to her.  She's not yet into her groove, and I can't help but think I'm failing as a dance coach. 

The children in her group are all different ages, at all different levels of sporting skill and sportsmanship.  Some are sociable little beings like her, mostly there to make new friends and giggle and have a bit of fun playing dodgeball and swimming.  Others are fully engrossed in the athletics and the activity.  And finally there are a select few natural born competitors, out to prove their prowess both on the floor and off.

It's the latter that are causing the real issue for me as a mom.  I'm really fumbling as I try to figure out how to even step out onto the dance floor.   

You see, Kiddo's been coming home telling me about this particular child who is two years older and "not nice" to her.  Kiddo doesn't get it.  She wants to play with this kid, and can't understand why this kid is constantly pushing her away or ridiculing her.   

I'm so torn.  On the one hand, I tell myself that this is life, and that Kiddo's got to learn to stand up for herself and simply ignore anyone who can't appreciate her.  Better that she get strong now.  So I tell her to play with the friends she's got, stop trying to engage that kid in conversation or play, and simply ignore the kid or anyone else who doesn't treat her right.  I tell myself that teaching her to stand up for herself and to alienate the "bad guys" is responsible parenting on my part.  I tell myself this is how to take to the dance floor like a professional.  I tell myself that she's growing up, she's changing, her world is changing, and she has to find her way.  

Love this song as sung by father-daughter.  Old dance moves aren't that easy to change, but I think it's possible if you try.

 

But then the novice dancer in me, the kid in me, chimes in.  Whispers in my ear "Is it really about getting the steps right, or is it about feeling the music?"  And that's when I want to burst onto the dance scene with Kiddo.  I fight the urge to bust a move on the 10-year-old bully.  I have to resist challenging her to a dance-off.  Because even though in my mind I could really humiliate her with my amazing mother-daughter dance routine, I think my pre-historic dance moves would probably end up being more of an embarrassment to Kiddo than anything else.

So I stand back; watch Kiddo as she flails her arms at the back of the dodgeball pack, determined to stay away from any incoming balls.  Watch as the other kid tries to goad Kiddo.  Watch Kiddo ignore the kid, just like we talked about.  Watch the other kid poke Kiddo in a further attempt to grab her attention.  Kiddo stands firm, ignoring this kid.  It takes everything to keep me off the dance floor; I have a really good idea where my dancing shoes would lead me, and it's not a good place.  I tell myself this is Kiddo's dance challenge to win or lose.

When the game is over, I walk over to Kiddo.  She's surprised to see I'm still there, but happy.  I tell her I'm proud of her.  Tell her to make sure to let the other kid know not to ever touch her again.  Then I stare the other kid down.

Hard. 

I know what you're thinking.  I'm 43.  The kid is 10.  But I warned you in the beginning: I'm not a great dancer - I'm just trying to get better at it.  I don't know this dance so well, and I'll certainly never be a world-class champion.  But as long as Kiddo never doubts that I'll be there to catch her on that aerial flip, I think we'll do ok.

 

Some people say this song by Dave Matthews Band is about lovers ... I've always thought about it more as about celebrating the moment and recognizing that change is unavoidable.  It's called Two Step by the way ...