My wife, Kristen, gets to go be with the girls from church. They have their “fit” night. If its nice out, they go for a walk. If its cold or rainy, they’ll do an activity inside. While Kristen is hanging out with the girls, I get to hang out with my girl, Josie.
Josie, the greatest bundle of a 3 (almost 4) year old you’ll ever meet. Tuesday nights are our night. Sometimes, we’ll spend time playing with her baby dolls. Some nights, we’ll build towers with her blocks. Some nights, we’ll sit and cuddle and watch a show.
A few weeks ago, we were sitting in the living room on a cold night while Kristen was exercising. I pulled out my iPad and we played some games on it, and then she asked to play “the robot” game. The robot game is a robot app that plays music when you touch the screen. She loves to hear his robotic sounds and different ways he sings them.
After we played with the robot for a while, she asked if she could play the piano. I have the Garage Band app on the iPad, so I started it up. I started playing some different songs with her, when she got up and started dancing around the room. I love watching her dance. She gets really into her performance. She closes her eyes, raises her arms over her head, and starts twirling and jumping – almost like a break dancing ballet.
She danced around the rug in our living room. As she danced, I couldn’t help but think of all the people in my life who have lost their children to a way too early death. Here I am, getting to watch my little girl twirl around the room with all the joy in the world, and they don’t get to do that. Its not fair. Its not fair that I get to experience such happiness, and they have to experience so much grief. God has truly blessed me more than I realize.
Fast forward to this past Tuesday night. It had finally gotten warmer out, so I asked Josie if she’d like to go for a ride in her new wagon. She excitedly agreed, and we set out for a wonderful walk around the campus of Lipscomb University, Josie and her baby doll in the wagon, and I in the front pulling them around.
I don’t think Josie went more than 7 seconds without asking a question, saying a word, or singing a song. Everyone we passed, she said hi to them. One guy walked by us on the way to the library, with his backpack on, and Josie said “Hey daddy, he’s got a backpack just like mine…except…his doesn’t have a turtle on it!” The young man turned and got a kick out of it and chuckled.
When we passed the swings on campus, Josie had to get out and sit with me in each one. Flowers had just been planted on campus, and Josie had to get out and smell each new section we passed. Then her baby doll would sniff them as well, and we could move on.
After we walked to the other side of campus, we started on our way back home. We passed by the commons area next to the student center, and there was a group of Lipscomb University students practicing for their “Singorama” show. There were about 20 co-eds, dancing around. Josie took notice of them immediately.
“Daddy, can I go dance with them?” she asked.
“Well Josie, they’re practicing for something important, and while I’m sure they’d love for you to dance with them, we better let them do it alone” I said.
“Daddy, can I just dance over here instead of with them?” she inquired.
“Well Josie, that may distract them, and that would hurt their practicing, so maybe we shouldn’t. Is that okay?”
“Okay daddy. I understand” she said.
We watched them for a bit more, and then walked around the corner to the other side of the building. When we could no longer see the students practicing, she asked “Daddy, since they can’t see us now, can I dance?”
I started to answer her with a “It’s getting cooler and we need to get home” answer, when I thought of the movie “Courageous” that recently came out. In that movie, a daughter asked her daddy to dance with him, and he said no. He was too embarrassed. Later on in the movie, a tragic turn causes the dad to realize he should have taken advantage of the opportunity.
So I looked down at her face, and I parked the wagon, and there in between the student center steps and the auditorium on Lipscomb’s campus, while many students are walking around, going back to their dorms or going off to play in their intramural games…I let my daughter dance. And I danced with her. And it was the greatest moment of my life.
Now, I didn’t dance like she did. She closed her eyes. She began to twirl and jump. She covered an area much like a gymnast does on the dance floor. I stood off to the side and did my best, but mostly just watched.
I watched my little girl who has grown up way too fast, dance like she didn’t care who was watching her. I watched her as her heart was full of joy and happiness. I truly believe she thought the whole world was watching, that all the eyes of every person were keyed in on her. For that brief moment, nothing else mattered.
When her performance was done, she took her bows, climbed back into the wagon, picked up her baby doll, and told me we could go on home. And so we did – and she continued to ask questions. She continued to want to stop and smell the flowers. She continued to want to sit in every swing.
And I continued to want to let her.
Take time – dance with your children. Shut the laptop and play with them. Put your work down and love on them. Forget trying to be perfect and try to be silly. Whatever you do, don’t let time slip away without dancing with them.