Learn from the Little Teachers


     I Don’t Dance.

     When I was seven, my family went to visit an old high school friend of my mom’s.  While the grownups sat around the kitchen reminiscing about the old days, the children were left to their own devices.  The friend had a son who was about my age, and he took me into the living room to show me their new CD player.  We ended up turning on some Ace of Base and dancing around the living room.  I got carried away, swept up in a frenzy of clumsy pirouettes.  I was in mid-leap when I looked out the window and saw my mom and her old friend leaning against each other, covering their mouths as they laughed.  Now that I have kids of my own, I realize they probably thought the whole thing was adorable, but at the time I was mortified.


     So, I don’t dance.  It makes me anxious.

     My kids love to dance, and I love watching them.  They circle around on their little tip-toes, reaching for the sky with big smiles.  My kids dancing is what happiness looks like. The other day I was feeling a little under the weather.  I put on some music and took a seat on the couch.  My four-year-old comes up to me and takes my hand.  “Come on, Mama,” she says, “I’ll teach you how to dance.”  


     Who says no to that?

     I followed her improvised choreography, spinning and clapping when instructed.  She laughed, smiling from ear to ear, leading me through a series of jumping circles.  When the song was over, she reached up over her head and said, “I can’t stop smiling!” 


     Neither could I.

     I learn from my children every day; I learn how to play, how to laugh, and how to let go of all the little things and just be happy.  We frame our identities around our likes and dislikes, things we are good at and things we’re bad at.  We often limit ourselves with these ideas.  We dismiss opportunities for novel experiences when we don’t try something new because it doesn’t fit with our image of who we are.  “I’m not going on that camping trip because I’m not outdoorsy,” or “I’m not going to give that speech because I’m not good at public speaking.”  My kids enjoy so much, because they haven’t yet ruled out their possibilities.


     We should learn from our little teachers.  

Don’t limit yourself!  It’s ok to dance! 

Originally appeared on the Medicine People of the World blog