I think we knew when she skipped out on the stage as Annie to perform a 3 minute Musical Theatre Dance Solo that her days in the dance studio were numbered. So it wasn't a real shock when she came to us and said I don't want to dance anymore. I was born to be on the stage. As an actress. I hope you can feel the flair of the dramatics in this statement. The biggest piece of this is that she decided. She told us. She called her dance teacher and said she loved her but she just didn't love dance like she should and she wanted to try something new. At seven. She did that.
We signed her up for a musical theatre class at the local children's theatre and she quickly set her sights on auditions for Lion King Kids. Five months away. In the mean time, she changed schools and found that she can marry her sparkly brain with math in engineering. So our sparkly brained creative actress wants to go to Georgia Tech (to the aghast of her UGA Alumni grandparents) so that she can move to Walt Disney World and be an Imagineer. After she plays the role of Dolly Parton in the story of Miss Dolly Parton's life on Broadway.
Oh. And she begged us if she could try basketball.
Basketball is another day another blog but let's just say, she isn't horrible. Actually, playing basketball has increased her confidence and really exposed an aggressiveness in her nature we didn't know was there. It's been a pretty powerful thing for her.
I guess the moral of the story is - let them try anything. Last year, she literally spent 6 hours on average in the dance studio. We had very little time as a family during the week and her little sister had to dance, too, because that was the only after school activity we could feasibly make happen for her - because we were already there. By the end of the season, she didn't love it anymore. And this kid loved dance. She danced everywhere. All the time. But she burnt out. And because we were so invested, we didn't listen when she gave us the clues that maybe, this wasn't working. This Christmas, she was asked to perform the role of Susan in the local high school's production of Miracle on 34th Street. She couldn't have done this if she was in rehearsals for the Christmas Production at the dance studio. This experience also gave her confidence and renewed her passion for the stage. She was able to hangout with older kids and learn from them and she had to perform four times - and find out that when you are in a play, you have to commit. Managing grades and having to sacrifice time with friends was huge. But she did it. And loved it. And was happy when it was over so she could spend her afternoons romping through the backyards of the neighbors with her friends.
She's taught me a lot this year. About trying new things and not being afraid. About finding your passion and that it's okay to be multi-passionate. You don't have to just be that one thing that everyone things you are. Actresses can shoot hoops. And artists can create robots. And if we allow ourselves to be students of the world we might just find that there is a lot we can do that we didn't know we could. I so wanted her to dance because I thought that was what she needed. Turns out, she knew what she needed all along.
Hakuna Mata. It means no worries. As parents, we sometimes worry about things so far in the future that it's hard to really focus on the present. She's going to be fine. Whether she plays basketball for the next decade or decides she wants to go back to dance or if all of a sudden she wants to play saxophone or soccer. The most important thing is that at eight, she doesn't have to know who she is completely right now. Now is the time to explore and figure out what it is she likes, what's she's good at, what she loves and is willing to spend time on getting better. Right now is when she is figuring out how can she take all of those things she's really good at - and some she's not - and become something beautiful with them all.
And right now, she is busy preparing for the role of Timon in Lion King Kids. Hakuna Mata!