Sometimes you just need to dance
“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children ultimately teach us what life is all about.” I’ve found this to be especially true of my two year old daughter, Vera. She has the uncanny ability to seize the moment and enjoy life with no cares about what anybody might think. She also sees the world very differently; people are people, so what if someone is different or has a disability? They can still be fun, a person she would like to meet…and possibly share a dance.
This past Saturday, my daughter and I went shopping at Target. We picked up the necessary items and took a seat in the snack bar, munching on some popcorn. I feel grateful to have the opportunity to make memories like this with my children as I remember moments like these from my childhood fondly. The snack bar was across from the checkout lines and of course, we were people watching. Even at two, my daughter gets people watching…and really likes it. Not as much as she likes “Finding Nemo” or playing educational games on the IPhone, but she digs it. She is her mother’s daughter!
Suddenly, a young boy, around ten or so appeared; he was bright and exciting, dancing, waving his arms and smiling a wide grin. It was clear he probably had some challenges/learning disabilities; it was also very apparent he was having the time of his life. My daughter couldn’t wait to get in on that action and I certainly wasn’t going to stop her. You’re only two years old once you know? Besides, it’s a checkout line, not a formal church service for crying out loud. Sometimes we just have to lighten up! She promptly waved her hand and shouted, “Hey, I’m Vera, I’m two!” He quickly smiled and responded, “Hi, I’m Justin, do you want me to dance?” My daughter could barely contain her excitement, shouting, “Oh yes, please!” He then began to dance and Vera cheered him on wildly, her hands in the air, giggling loudly.
Justin walked towards us and offered his hand to my daughter saying, “Let’s dance!” She jumped down and began dancing with Justin, everything from silly foot stomping and wild arm waving to twirling and spinning. Just two kids having a good time, breaking the monotony of the checkout line. It was definitely the Justin and Vera show — no commercials, no interruptions, just pure entertainment and glee! They didn’t care what anybody thought and couldn’t imagine anybody thinking there was anything wrong with dancing and having a good time.
Justin’s Mom walked up to us, telling me that he was “special,” that sometimes he didn’t understand his own strength and didn’t want him to accidentally hurt my daughter while dancing. I smiled and told her that I understood. My brother is autistic and my daughter loves him; in fact, she thinks he’s the bee’s knees. He has a calming effect on her and that means a lot for a two year old who is full of energy and rarely wants to sit down. She doesn’t care about any disability, she sees the heart. His Mom smiled and said thank you. As Justin and his family left, Vera clamored, raising her hands, shouting, “Bye Justin” while people in the checkout lane smiled and cheered the two on.
There were a couple of people who weren’t so friendly or happy about the situation; a lady with her baby in a stroller buying diapers who rolled her eyes; she probably thought the kids were acting up and causing a scene. And there were a couple of stares, but overall, people smiled and cheered, happy to see two kids just being kids, enjoying every second of it. Sometimes when the world looks back at me like this, I am so encouraged; believing the good far outweighs the bad.
My children teach me so much about life every single day. I’ve never claimed to have it all figured out, I know better, but the innocence and genuine joy that my kids bring to each day remind me what life is all about. It’s not about being right…or proving someone else wrong, paying bills, job security, phone calls, status checking on Facebook, tweeting away, or the little dramas of life that cause adults such dismay. It’s about savoring each moment. Maybe it’s about being vulnerable by introducing yourself to someone who might be off the beaten path, someone who other people might not want to engage. Maybe it’s saying, yes, I’ll dance, even if you’re in the middle of a store and people are looking at you like you’re crazy. Perhaps it’s accepting people, regardless of any differences you might have, and just cutting loose and having a good time. As adults, we are required to lose a bit of our childish ways; naturally, they give way to things that must be attended to, those we are responsible for as adults. But there are moments, sacred moments where we can choose to be more like children, to dive in headfirst into the pool of life and savor special times that’ll we remember forever and have the potential to change the lives of others.
I have a lot of dreams and believe great things for my daughter. I don’t know who she will be when she grows up, what kind of person she’ll become, but I hope, I pray that she’ll be able to keep her ability to see people for their heart, for who they are regardless of any disability or outward appearance. That she’ll keep dancing, even if other people don’t understand, and even if people find her a bit odd. I hope she keeps her free spirit, walking through this world enjoying the little moments of life, and drawing others like her close. Life really is all about the company you keep and those who choose to keep you company. While it was just a moment, it’s a moment I won’t forget. Maybe it wasn’t life changing, but maybe it can teach, remind us of a few things that we sometimes forget. Maybe we can appreciate someone who marches to the beat of their own drummer. Maybe we shouldn’t care so much what other people think, and maybe, just maybe, that people are just people, that a little dance may not change the world, but it can be a lot of fun.
Sometimes a little dance can change absolutely nothing and absolutely everything at the same time. In my little universe, Justin and Vera’s dance once again renewed my pursuit of inner joy that which no outside influence can affect. I hope you someday find the same breakthrough that renews your search for inner joy and pure happiness. In the meantime, if you need to borrow a breakthrough, you can use mine. Just close your eyes and picture a little two year old, rowdy girl and ten year old boy gleefully dancing their hearts away in a checkout line at Target, not a care in the world, laughing, singing, and dancing. I do believe you’ll be able to find at least a spark of that inner joy to start you on your way.
Keep dancing, keep dreaming, keep believing, and keep inspiring others. If you see a lady in Target smiling and dancing, don’t be alarmed. It’s probably just me, aspiring to be more like Justin and Vera every day.