Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Just go with it

There are times in my life when I have epiphanies: crystal clear moments of seeing who I really am or what is truly important in life.  I recently had a big one.

 Last night, we experienced the wonder of preschool celebrations: the holiday singalong.  Dozens of preschoolers dressed in their holiday finest, singing Christmas songs on a stage in front families loaded down by cameras, video cameras, and cell phones.  All of the kids were beyond adorable: smiling on the stage, waving to their parents, jingling their bells...all except one.  Dallas.  Yep, my kid didn't want to go on stage.  Not one bit.  No way, no how.  I honestly didn't mind, or I didn't think that I minded.

I was actually pretty happy that he was feeling some stage-fright as soon as we arrived at the theater.  Little boys were in ties, Christmas sweaters, and khakis while girls were sparkly in holiday dresses with glittering tights and fancy shoes.  Dallas was in gray sweatpants, a shirt in an entirely different shade of gray, a blue hoodie emblazoned with a skull, and his favorite Spider-Man gym shoes.  Needless to say, I was a touch mortified that I hadn't made him get gussied up before we left the house.

His teacher convinced him to sit in the front row so he could join in the singing and jingle-belling with the rest of his classmates.  He sat beside me with his hood over his head Unabomber-style and happily sang the songs from his seat while the rest of the class sang on stage.  I couldn't seem to shake the tense feeling I had, though, about why he wouldn't just suck it up and go do what he was supposed to do.  I didn't want the other parents to judge me on his behavior.  Serious selfishness, right?  I did my best to mask my tension from him because I didn't want him to sense that I was embarrassed by his choice.  I was embarrassed for me, sure.  But I also didn't want him to stand out and be...different.

About halfway through the program, the kids stood up to do the "Reindeer Pokey."  For those of you not in the know, you put your antlers in, you put your antlers out.  You put your antlers in, and you shake 'em all about it.  And, really, that's what it's all about.  I noticed Dallas slowly scooting out of his chair, and I told him he could go up on stage if he felt like it.  He smiled at me and climbed up on the stage.  There he stood in the front of the pack, hood up, looking slightly rumpled, and danced his little booty off.

Working the antlers

And in that moment, watching him on the stage, every bit of embarrassment or tension I felt melted completely away.  This kid was having a ball, and he didn't care one bit what anyone else, on stage or in the audience, thought about him or what he was doing.  For a second, I could see him as a teenage boy and a young man, just doing his thing, living his life, and being happy.  I ceased caring if other parents were wondering what the hell this kid was doing or why he was doing it.  I truly and deeply lived in that sweet moment, and I felt all the joy I imagine Dallas was feeling.

Shakin' his tail all about

As soon as the song was over, he sat back down beside me and stayed there until the final two songs when he decided to finish on the stage with his friends.  After the last song, the teachers invited the students to take a bow for the audience.  Dallas's bow was so big, so proud, and so elaborate that he almost fell over.  I was so proud of him for knowing exactly what he wanted to do and for having the courage to do it his way.  Quite frankly, I'm in awe of how he lives his life with such honesty.  I was proud of myself for letting go of what I thought I was supposed to be thinking or feeling.  Dallas may not march to the same drum-beat as everyone else, but I love whatever sound he chooses to hear.
No frills, no fancy...just my boy