Monday, November 4, 2013

Just the Way we Are

There is nothing that can make you appreciate feeling Ok like a few days of feeling crappy. So last week when Lily came home with a reminder about her school art project, I knew if I had any energy at all- we would have to accomplish it Sunday.

School projects always come home with the clause- you can help your child, but make sure it is their own work. I really think it's payback from teachers for all the shenanigans they have to put up with throughout the year. Projects always give me a healthy reality check of why I am not a teacher and how little patience I really have. Sandwich that with a dose or two of chemo and questionable GI issues- time and patience are a bit on short supply altogether.

Lily has been excited about the project- it could be any element or materials. It will shock you to know that Lily chose performance art. She never quite got over not being able to sing AND dance for the talent show last year- she began fixating on her project. Lily is nothing if not prepared and idealistic. Every day on the way home from school she would tell me how it was going to go down- Phillip would play the piano, Kiera would sing back up and dance and well, Bella could dance too.  I kinda wondered if we were all in for it.

Sunday morning rolls around and it's crunch time. The project is due this week and if we don't get it done now- well the chances of it getting done at all will dwindle.  Lily is adamant she has the choreography in her mind.  She begins showing Bella and Kiera their moves. It reminds me of childhood- dancing around the living room with Melissa- big plans for talent shows which would lead ultimately to fame and marriage to Superman 1 and Superman 2. Because in the 80's we were best friends and Superman was the most eligible bachelor, we shared everything and well cloning seemed to be an entirely plausible solution. Our claim to fame- word by word miming of Madonna's hits. As I watched Lily point to her face and hair repeatedly, Kiera grew frustrated with the lack of variety in the routine. Her constructive criticism was not well received. Bella jumped ship because she really has the attention span of a fruit fly when it comes to performance art. I separate the girls and ask Kiera to print out the lyrics while I talk to Lily.

Lily has a fantastical image of what her production is in her head. I tell her, I am going to video her so she can see what the moves are- because they seem to change from moment to moment. If she wants Kiera to dance with her, she has to be able to teach her the moves and be consistent. Lily is consistent. She likes order and routine. The calendar is her compass. The only area where Lily is unrestrained, wild and completely spontenuous is in her dancing. Girlfriend can feel some dance.

We run through several verses and I write down the moves- in dance illiterate mommy shorthand. Kiera spews things at me like that's called a ball change and this is this and that is that while Lily and I wear the same slightly amused yet uncomprehending expression. They run through it. They run through it again. and again. Lily keeps changing her mind. Kiera is about to lose her mind. I wonder what the hell we are doing. We have gone from full out Partridge Family dance special to just Kiera and Lily, no singing- just dancing and the collective hairs have been pulled out. We have been at it for 3 hours and I still have to video it and somehow manage to get it onto a DVD for her to take in to school. Kiera keeps telling her she can't just do this or that or change it. Lily is in tears. Kiera is frustrated. I am stressed to the point of coughing fits. Bella is drawn to the train wreck occurring and keeps putting herself underfoot.  All the while Bruno Mars keeps crooning,  Just the way you are, just the way you aaaaaaare. Just the way you are.  Dang we are doing it wrong.

I call Lily over. What is the point of this project? To show an art form. And why do we do art? To show feelings and find our happy place. Are you happy? NO.  I want to try something. I want her to just dance. JUST. DANCE. I will record it. But she just has to have fun and do whatever her body tells her. Then she can rethink choreography. She agrees. And she dances and smiles and giggles. In the end we agreed the best thing was for her to just be her. I love that she loves her family and wants to include everyone. We also know that she is a free dancing spirit and for her project to really be her- right now it can only be her- just the way she is.  She eventually changed out of her pajamas and we did an "official" take- but the first one when she lets loose and just is free is the one that I cherish because sometimes we make it far too hard on ourselves before we can just be the way we are.
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Lily Kay Monkey

Lily Kay Monkey
November 2008 Photographed by Shelley Detton (7 Layer Studio)