You know what it feels like to be in sync with the music, or with your dance partner… Have you ever thought of parenting as a kind of ‘dance’?
One of the fundamental pieces of our role as parent is to try to understand where our child is, and meet them there, so that we can support them as they move forward in their development. In our best moments, when we are calmly observing the child, we are able to really “see” them, and we often have a moment of helpful insight.
This happened to me recently during a visit to family in Brooklyn. My two-year-old, who has flaming red hair and a fiery personality to match, had for quite some time been boiling over with his emotions and often with sensitivity to the elements around him (sun, wind, sound… you name it). On a particularly windy walk in Prospect Heights, I ended up having to carry my son to protect him from the wind, while he peered over my shoulder, screaming furiously, “Wind!! Don’t. Blow. Me. Up!!!” (He did attract quite a few looks, not surprisingly to us… but we couldn’t help but giggle at his choice of words!)
Under normal circumstances, I would not be carrying my almost-3-year-old. My children thrive on independence and self-sufficiency, AND I also care about my own freedom of movement and my spine health! In moments like this, however, I choose to bend and soften towards my son’s particular needs…. meaning, that this tantrum-like behavior is not quite a reflection of his developmental stage as it is a reflection of his unique sensibilities. In this moment, the wind was too much for him, and it became my job, as always, to “see” that, and to do what I could reasonably do to help. For me, this did not mean running indoors somewhere to protect him from the air—rather, it meant holding him close to reduce the intensity of the experience for him, and being willing to FEEL the wind with him. I even spoke to the wind along with him: “You are really strong today, wind! But you’re not going to blow me away… I’m too strong for that.” This gave my son some additional words to try, and a slight shift in mindset along with them. He welcomed the transition from furious resistance to finding strength and steadiness in a sensitive moment.
Holding my son that day, and walking with the wind, I felt like we were almost dancing together… not quite in the sense that I heard trumpets playing, but in a deeper sense—as if we were coming together as one body, arm in arm, finding solace together.
This is what dancing is to me, and I think it made my small boy feel ‘in sync’ with his mama…. and maybe a little less ‘out-of-sync’ with nature.