Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Dancing in the Kitchen

On Valentine's Day, there was a dance party in my kitchen.

It wasn't the first, and I sure hope it won't be the last.

I've got three kids who love to rock out in the silliest ways.  A few times a week--often when one of us is in what we call a "poopy mood" (and that one of us is sometimes me) and needs to be pushed in the direction of a better attitude--I put some dance tunes on and we all move our bodies in whatever way our bodies want to move.

My oldest son Ben probably has the best moves.  He points his fingers and extends his legs and makes faces like those crazy bands in the '80s used to.  He taps his knee, incorporates ninja-like moves, and often falls to the floor in what he calls breakdancing moves but really look like spasms of joyful movements with kicks and twists and twirls, all on our shabby kitchen floor that has seen way too many spills (which are now incorporated in his outfit).
Ben (in the back)...gettin' down with his little bro.

My youngest son Kiefer looks to Ben, as all younger siblings look to their older cohorts.  He does a miniature version of whatever Ben does, with his lips puckered and eyes narrowed in concentration.  Since he's not yet three, he doesn't have as much control over his body, so his movements are a little fatter and a little cuter; they involve a lot of high-knee marching and pausing with his legs in a wide straddle.  It is inexplicable and adorable!

Kiefer of the Orange Socks dances with his big brother Ben
Lorelei is older than both boys but she gets into it just as much.  She likes to be a little more graceful, but, happily for this tomboy-turned-mom, she can also get down on her back and pick up last nights' crumbs while "breakdancing" with the boys.  She steps in and out with her feet and doesn't feel awkward at all making up her own pattern as she feels her own rhythm.  The only one with long hair, I've taught her how to get her ponytail involved in the dance (some might call it head-banging; what can I say?  I spent time in Seattle in the '90s!).

Sweet Lorelei sashaying by herself.
I join in. I feel like they need an example of how to commit to dancing, so I have a great time shimmying and shaking my hips with them.  I dust off my show choir moves from high school and spin and dance and do my version all the latest hip-hop moves.  I twirl my kids around and around and around--until they are a dizzy heap of giggle.  I exercise my ham gene and grab whatever kitchen tool isn't put away (usually I have many to choose from) and use it as a microphone to lip synch the song.

I want them to dance!  I want them to move!  I want them to laugh!

And they do.  For right now, they sure do.

In my kitchen, the safest and most comforting of all the rooms in their secure little home, they know they can dance however they want to dance.  Anything is allowed, and everything is fun.  And, like Pete the Cat says, it's all good.

There are no snarky classmates pointing out that boys shouldn't dance with other boys.  And so Ben and Kiefer dance wildly together, arm in arm, spinning each other around.

There are no frenemies looking on, casting a judgement-filled gaze that says it all: dancing should have official, known, recognizable dance moves.  And so, my kids continue to make up their own dance moves, and they dance them in unfettered, joyful spurts.

There are no crushes on the side of the dance floor to tone down their enthusiasm and make them self-conscious and make them worried that they look stupid.  And so they embrace their inner dancer with wild enthusiasm and simply have fun.

There are no cool kids rolling their eyes at the fact that they are dancing with their mom. Their mom!  How utterly uncool!  And so they grab my hands and ask me to twirl them again, or ask me to pick them up and duck them under my legs, or just put their head on my shoulder and let me do all the work.  (Which I gladly do.)

I know, at some point, their awesome dance moves will wilt a little under the harsh glint of peer pressure and their human desire to fit in.  It will break my heart a little to see them stop themselves, rein themselves in, critique their own dance moves until they blend in with the crowd.

This sort of wilting is inevitable, I guess, but I hope for two things: First, that my kitchen can always be a place of insane, crazy, judgement-free dancing; second, that they unlearn the silliness of toning themselves down in their adulthood and dance like crazy with their kids.  I have a hand in these two things, so I keep the dance music playing and dance my mom-self away with wild enthusiasm.

One has to set an example, after all...


  1. What a joyful, heartfelt post. Your children have a great Mom. I know it is a long way off, but preserve some more of these kitchen dance memories to use for that all important dance at the wedding.

  2. Wow - what a wonderful thing to do with your kids! I love that they dressed up, too.

  3. This is amazing! I want to dance in your kitchen too! Your kids definitely already know how to "dance like there's nobody watching". Tell me there's singing and air guitar too...

  4. Yes, lots of air guitar! The boys have a difficult time differentiating between singing and yelling...!