Last night I started my daughter, A, back in dance class. She had been going for about a year or so, then stopped at the beginning of last summer because the dance studio didn't do summer classes, only camp sessions. I meant to wait until she got acclimated in her new school in the fall and then sign her up again, but time just got away from me and I never did. Last week I checked back in with the same studio and found that there was a class that not only seemed appropriate, but fit perfectly in our hectic schedule We audited it last night, and I ended up signing her up.
As I was watching her in the class, I had mixed emotions. She had a hard time with many of the moves, partly because they were new to her but mostly because of her balance disorder. Even though she's 5 1/2, she still can't jump, let alone hop on one foot, skip, or do any of the moves that require her to be in the air. But she tries so darned hard, and adapts the moves to what she CAN do. I've never seen a little girl try harder, nor have so much fun. That made me so proud. I get filled with so much PRIDE when I see her try so hard and do so well!
While I have pride, however, I also get a little sad. It's still hard for me sometimes to see her around other kids her age who are typically developing and see how far behind she is. She has come so amazingly far, yet she still has a long way to go, especially with her gross motor skills. So when I see girls her age pirouetting gracefully around the room, I am proud and happy that she is walking and indeed TWIRLING, albeit a bit clumsily and off-balance...and I get a bit sad and wistful for what we'll never have.
While watching her dance, it occurred to me that A and I are similar in some ways. While she has a hard time keeping up with others in dance class, I have a hard time in yoga. I recently started taking yoga, and am still so tight and inflexible that I need to adapt some of my poses. In my class Monday night, for example, we were doing a leg stretch where we were asked to place our hands as far down our leg as we could (while we were lying on our backs with our legs in the air). I could only place my hand as far down as my knee, but others in the class were grabbing their calfs, their ankles, even their toes.
I'm not in a competition with the other class members, and in fact the teacher always reminds us to listen to our bodies and do what we can do and adapt the rest. I do what I can, and know that with practice I will improve. The same goes for A. She can only do what she can do, and it doesn't matter what the other little girls can do. She is doing her best too. We can only work with what we have---I have tight muscles, she has no semi-circular canals, the part of the inner ear that control balance--but we both have drive, spunk, a sense of fun, and a desire to improve.