"Sweetie? Would you like to try going to dance class?"
I thought she would have no idea what I was talking about. Actually, I'm fairly certain that at first she didn't, but I guess because her cousin just started kindergarten and my little girl is very jealous of the "magic school bus" she rides and the all-mysterious "class" she attends, the answer was an emphatic,
Followed, true-to-form, with, "...but you stay with me, Mama?"
So I signed her up for a little dance class for three-year-olds with two of her friends. We've talked about it pretty regularly for a couple of weeks and she's been nothing but excited. So excited, in fact, that when we went to "Sibling Class" at the hospital last week for some new baby practice, she kept asking when we would dance. She even told the whole group at one point, "Hey guys! You stand over 'der an' I will dance and you watch!" Her little voice didn't carry much, so no one heard her, but her Daddy and I almost died laughing. She left pretty disappointed that she didn't get to dance. We got her a milkshake through and she forgot.
I still wasn't sure how she would take to the class. Would she just stand there? Cry if I walked away? Ignore the teacher? She takes awhile sometimes to warm up, but when she does, you have a friend for life. We walked in with me certain I would have to help her, hold her hand, calm some panic if I tried to join the other moms.
I was wrong. So painfully wrong.
My little bit just walked right over and joined the troupe. She watched and listened, cautiously at first, moving just a little here and there. She barely glanced back at me. Then, like watching a little flower bloom in time-lapse, she opened up. She smiled, she jumped, she ran, she twirled, she sang, she answered questions. She followed every direction on her own without me. And she loved every second of it.
She hugged her teachers at the end and asked the second we sat in the car if she could go to another dance class. She wanted to go home and play dance class with her dolls.
It wasn't that I was expecting her to be naughty or disobedient. I just expected her usual shyness (although it's been less and less lately) and I was so completely proud just watching her be herself and have so much fun with her little friends.
But my heart felt a little tight, too, watching her. She's just suddenly so grown up in these past about six weeks. And I guess, deep down, I'd expected her to need me more.
She does, though, obviously. As soon as the class was over the teacher said, "See you next week!" and my girl's eyes lifted right to mine as she stood and ran to me, all smiles and big-girl pride. She threw her arms around my neck and she still smelled like my baby and her hair was the same soft and sweet as I brushed it off her face and told her what a great job she did. Her little soft round cheeks and trusting eyes still belong to a baby.
Don't tell her that though. She's a big girl- a dancing big girl.