She twirled. She leapt. She skipped across that stage with red hair piled high in a dainty bun, her silver white tutu glimmering like the starry sky. My beautiful girl—my ballerina.
This was our daughter’s first dance recital, the finale to six months of lessons and rehearsals and crazy costume fittings. My husband and I sat among a crowd of fellow parents, all of us applauding so hard and grinning so wide, our hands and cheeks ached long after the curtain fell.
Sure, it wasn’t the Koch Theater, but it might as well have been. These were our kids, our superstars. Everything—from memorizing the routines, to facing an audience, to navigating backstage without Mom—was an accomplishment. We were giddy proud of our daughter.
And we might’ve missed the whole thing, if it had been up to her.
Because she hated her dance class.
Oh, she loves dance. Just not this particular class. Last spring, she fell head over slippers for beginner ballet at the YMCA. So for the school year, frugal mom here enrolled in the community Park and Rec dance program, which was half the cost of the YMCA. Hey, dance is dance, right?
Nope. Not according to the ballerina.
“Can I please stay home?” She begged one Thursday evening near the start of the dance season. Her body went limp, and she resisted my tug to get her leotard over her hips.
“Why? I thought you love ballet.”
“I liked the YMCA. I want to go back there.”
“Well, sweetheart, we’re trying this new class now. Give it a chance. You might learn to like it.”
But she didn’t. There were too many kids, she said. Eighteen little girls running around the dance floor, paying no heed to the teacher. Her class at the Y had only four students. It was quieter. She’d rather play at home with her sister, her dolls, her coloring books. She’d rather help me clean the bathroom.
“Really?” My eyebrows shot up. “Scrubbing toilets beats dance class?”
“Yes.” She frowned. “I don’t want to go.”
Week after week, we drove to class anyway. She tolerated it well enough, but she never exhibited the same enthusiasm she once had for pirouettes and pliés. So I wondered—should I force her to go?
“Yes.” My husband stood at the kitchen stove, browning meat for the tacos we planned to eat after dance class. I jiggled car keys in my hand, wishing I could hang them up and help chop lettuce instead.
“But she’s not enjoying it,” I reasoned. “She’s only five years old. What’s the point in making her continue an activity she doesn’t love, when there’s so little time outside of school to just be a kid?”
“I understand that. I do,” my husband sympathized. “But where do we draw the line? She can’t back out of an activity every time she’s dissatisfied. We have a chance here to teach her an important life lesson. In our family, we keep our commitments.”
Does anybody really honor a commitment anymore? In our modern, fast-paced age, deals are easily broken. People change jobs, change majors, upgrade their homes, their cell phones, their wives. So what if we already paid the 40 dollar costume fee. My baby wants out of dance class and darnitall, I want her to be happy! Commitment, coshmmitment. Loyalty is outdated!
But thankfully, our God is timeless.
“…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 1:6, emphasis mine).
Why do we honor our commitments? Because God honors his to us. He does not give up on us when we’re no longer fun and interesting. He sees us through to completion. I am so grateful for that. Aren’t you?
So we stuck out the full season of dance class. We weren’t legalistic about it. On occasion I’d let our daughter stay home if she had a headache or a cold. But her dad and I made it clear that skipping was not to become a habit, and if she missed dance this week then she would go next week unless she happened to be bleeding or feverish.
It wasn’t always easy, but it was worthwhile.
“Sweetheart, you were stunning.” I beamed at my daughter as we drove away from the recital hall. She held a flower bouquet in her lap, a reward from her dad. “Did you have fun?”
“Yes.” She flashed a shy smile.
“You know dance class is done now. The recital was the end for this year.”
“Are you happy about that?”
She rolled her eyes and grinned. “Oh, yeah! Can we go back to the YMCA now?”
“Yes, love.” I laughed. “You’ve earned it.”
My child may never become a professional dancer, just as yours probably won’t make a career out of soccer or swimming or science club. But they can be well trained for a lifetime of loyalty and integrity. It starts with making smart choices about where we invest their time, then teaching our kids to follow through.
Until the day of Christ Jesus—and a silver tutu parade.
Linking up with: The Better Mom, Playdates With God, The Mom Initiative, Titus 2sdays, Grace at Home, Women Living Well, Rethinking My Thinking, What He’s Done Wednesday, Wedded Wednesday, and Things I Can’t Say.