While writing the post “Dancers are Made of Steel and Grace”, Sea Pony overheard me discussing ballet terms and choreography with Ocean Breeze. “What are you guys talking about?”, she asked, “What are you doing that for?’ “I’m writing about Ocean’s first recital en pointe”, I replied half expecting her to understand the magnitude of that event. “What about me? It was my first recital with jazz!”, she replied fully expecting me to understand the importance of that accomplishment. “You’re going to write about me too, right?” “Of course, I am!”
So here I am writing about her. The truth is that she’s right. Although performing a jazz piece for the first time does not appear to carry the same weight that balancing on pointe for the first time does, it bears a magnitude of importance when looked at in relation to her world. “Get Your Sparkle on” was her jazz piece, and my girl was sassy yet precise. For the first time in her dancing years, she danced her choreography without the aid of a dance instructor off-stage marking the steps. For the first time, she had to really memorize her choreography. Did she accomplish it? And then some! Like I said – sassy yet precise. This means that although she was keenly aware of delivering a performance accurate in technique, her personality was not lost in concentration. My girl’s smile illuminated the stage. She followed us with her eyes…never losing us…capturing us with the fun in her heart.
So what about her? Is “what about me” the plight of the little sister? Is she constantly feeling compared to her older sibling? Always feeling like she has to live up to a standard that was set years before she arrived there? Always following a path that was already forged for her? Constantly dancing in someone else’s shoes? I hope not. The truth is that she sparkled all on her own. Her performance so individual and so different from anything her sister had ever done. But what do we do to help her feel that internally? How do we say you shine all on your own?
I’m not sure what the correct answer to that question is, but my mama gut tells me that I have to let her forge her own path on some things. I have to let her be the trail blazer on something. Everyone deserves the opportunity to feel like they were the original one for something…or maybe even the only one. Could it be soccer for Pony? This is a sport that she has shown interest in but one that we have not had the time to pursue. I, adamant in not over-scheduling my children, have refused to add yet another extracurricular activity to a week already filled with a night of piano and several nights of dance. But piano and dance are things that Ocean Breeze pioneered in our family. Pony followed suit, because she wanted to learn what her big sister had learned…and it was certainly easier for me to take them to the same location after school than to do the insane rounds of dropping off one kid, driving to pick up the other, and then going back for the first.
Could it be her time? Do I need to bite the bullet and add soccer to that preciously free Thursday night? (and those relished activity-free weekends?) It’s not that she does not enjoy dance and piano. I don’t think she would give either of them up (well, the verdict is still out on piano). It’s that I think she needs her own niche…her own world. I think she needs a place where there is no one to be compared to, even if she is the one doing the comparing. I feel that she wants to be able to say, “This is Pony’s thing, and nobody else does it.” Would turning an already painfully hectic schedule up-side-down be worth the validation that she would feel in knowing that her interests matter and that she is more than a copy of her big sister? I might find myself testing the waters this fall.