Another Dance with Cinderella
“Hugh, the first rehearsal for the father-daughter dance is Saturday,” my daughter’s dance instructor said, smiling.
I smiled back, but inside I was groaning, kicking, screaming. It’s that time ALREADY??
“I just have one request,” I told her. “PLEASE don’t let us dance to that Dance with Cinderella song again, or anything like it.”
“Don’t worry,” she said. “It’s going to be funky this year.”
As I left the studio, daughter in tow, it hit me that she put WAY too much emphasis on the word funky. That worried me. Funky I am not.
Now my daughter is excited and it’s all she can think about. For my part I try hard to forget that the reversals are coming up but all week my daughter hounds me.
“You’re going to the father-daughter dance rehearsal right dad?”
The next day – “Dad, you don’t have to work, right? We’re going to the father-daughter dance rehearsal?”
“That’s right luv.”
I smiled when I answered her but really, this was one week where Saturday rolled around much too fast. I wasn’t ready for this. I never am. My daughter has attended dance school since she was barely three years old, so for the last four years we have done the father daughter dance together, along with all the other “dance” dads. And for each of the four years, she has been excited beyond belief while I’m…not.
I dread this time every year.
The first year wasn’t too bad. She was only three years old, so the father-daughter dance consisted of me picking her up and twirling her around a few times. There was more to the choreography, trust me, but a combination of an enthusiastic and giggling three-year-old and a father with three left feet, the choreography degenerated quickly.
It was fun, though. A lot of fun.
The next year the choreography was to the song Dance with Cinderella, a tear-jerking song that reduced big strong men to emotional idiots who, for an hour, tried to learn the steps while holding back their emotions. For three straight Saturday afternoons we handled it by looking straight ahead, never making eye contact with one another.
Still, on the day of the recital, we went up on stage. We danced with our girls and had fun, the song making us even more keenly aware that it wouldn’t be too long before our little girls wouldn’t be little girls anymore.
Last year the song was decidedly lighter, Donna Summer’s, Last Dance. As always, I dreaded the rehearsals and more than once I cursed the dance gods that laugh at me but in the end my daughter and her friends had an amazing time.
So, this year, after an entire Saturday of being asked, Dad, is it time yet, we arrived at the dance studio (kinda) ready for the rehearsal. The song is Rockwell’s Somebody’s Watching Me. As the instructor showed us the steps and we all pondered the sheer impossibility of ever learning them, my daughter held my hand and I looked down on her face. I swear, the look on her face made me ashamed of ever complaining about the father-daughter dance. That look, a mixture of thanks dad, I appreciate you dad, I love you dad is all the thanks any father ever needs.
So we danced. I did the bus stop and the something else and the something else and I tried my best to learn the steps. I was dancing. Badly. But I was dancing. And I had fun. And I can’t wait for the next rehearsal.
That look, man.
It’s never going to make me a better dancer, but it did make me a better father. So, for you my love I will dance this year, and next year and as long as God gives me breath. I hope you’ll always look at me like that, because I promise, I will always dance with you.