29 June 2006

Going to see the dancers

A couple of weekends ago, I had planned a little outing downtown to see the Indian dance performance at the International Festival, held at Boulder's downtown pedestrian mall every summer. But one of our cats made it exceedingly clear that she wasn't happy about how quickly we'd tried to introduce a new cat into the house. So five minutes before two found me and my daughter Nani at the laundromat, stuffing a down comforter into an industrial-sized washer. I fretted about our cats as we got back into the car and lucked into a parking spot downtown a few minutes later; we slipped into the two empty seats right at the edge of the stage just as the Mudra Dance Studio started their performance. As we watched the women dance, my worries about my cat receded and again I felt fortunate to live in a place that honors not just its own people but people around the world as well.

This wasn't the first time we had seen the Mudra dancers. We had gone to their big fundraiser performance the fall after we'd brought our daughter home from the International Mission of Hope in Calcutta. We had been to three East Indian Heritage Camps, where the Mudra dancers teach the kids, camp counselors, and even adults from more than 80 mixed families, with the dancers giving a big performance at the Saturday night celebration. Nani had learned some dances and participated in these performances herself.

I sat at the edge of the stage feeling smug and virtuous for giving my daughter another opportunity to see something of India again. I watched my daughter quietly watching the dancers through her thick fringe of shiny black hair (growing out your bangs was all the rage in kindergarten this year). I noticed a handful of other families with kids from around the world in the audience, pleased that they could enjoy this celebration of Indian culture, too. And everyone noticed the little toddler boy who couldn't resist the twirling and the brightly colored costumes and kept toddling back onto the stage to join in the fun.

Then the director of Mudra Dance Studio came out and talked for a few minutes about how music unites people. That music is an universal language is so often said that it is almost a cliche; yet her impassioned insistence that music is one of the only things that can transcend linguistic, religious, and political boundaries somehow struck a chord with me.

As she and her dance partner gestured and twirled in their orange and red chiffon dresses, the dance and the expression of her sentiments took shape and form. As I sat alongside my daughter and felt the meaning of the words and sounds in my heart, I found tears flowing from my eyes. Suddenly it was clear to me that I was sitting there weeping because I needed to receive this message, a beautiful, healing bouquet of sound and color. I knew that I wasn't giving this to my daughter explicitly; whatever Nani would take away from this experience was up to her. But it gave me another opportunity to thank my child for opening my heart and helping me remember all that gives my life meaning and beauty.

06 June 2006

You can take the title of this blog literally...

...and float with me and my daughter on the creek that runs behind our house. today we walked up to the pocket park about four blocks away and put our innertube in and hopped in. brrr! my kid sat on my lap and enjoyed the ride. I used our pole to steer us away from branches and eddies. we floated downstream to the park a block from our house and did it again and again. what a gift not to have to pack up a car full of stuff and trek somewhere to get wet but just to be able to walk up the block and get in the water. it's only during the summer, but that's okay. otherwise the water would be too cold.

but I must say that the child who accompanied us on our last journey was rather, shall we say, manipulative. every advantage she saw, she pursued. she repeatedly tried to get us to slow down so she would be first (she was in the lead already the entire time on the water). she even set up some elaborate delaying system with some clothes and towels ahead of time. it was amazing to watch because you could see her setting it up so deliberately. I was glad I had set an expectation for one ride downstream together. I would have been carrying everything all the way if it had been up to her.

I'm such a tough mama. I got impatient with all this and raised my voice and then my daughter started talking to her the same way. when I heard her yelling I realized what I was doing and backed down quite a bit. I explained why I did not want child b to go get her other things and come back. and I insisted we go directly back to her house. I feel I must take a pretty firm stance with her, yet I expect she might even be one of those people who respects you if you do that, and if you expect a lot of her. at least I'd rather think so.

02 June 2006

it's almost summer; let the wild rumpus start

Last week of school and then it's summer vacation. Oh, how lucky I feel this year. I am about to get to spend the summer with my great kid! Yes! And we're going to learn stuff, like tubing and hiking and swimming and singing and playing games.... Yippee!