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The Real World

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“Watch this one, Mom!” Six-year-old Thing2 leapt from one end of the kitchen, contorting his body in ways that could land him a wildcard spot on ‘So You Think You Can Dance’.

I had only intended to watch for a few seconds, but his spinning leaps kept my attention through the rest of the song as I ignored the growing collection of unanswered emails in my inbox. When the song ended, I did not return to my email but opened a new tab in my browser and navigated to the Hubbard Hall website in search of autumn dance classes for younger artists. A weekend class would be ideal, I thought, and found an offering that started late enough in the day to let us get from soccer practice to the restored opera house with 2 minutes to spare.

“Would you like to take a dance class at Hubbard Hall?” I asked, knowing that Thing2 would say yes to any workshop sponsored by the community theatre and art center in the one-traffic light town of Cambridge, NY.

He grinned and shouted an barely intelligible “YES!” as he launched into the next song.

“It looks like a great class,” I said. “It’s jazz and ballet.” As I uttered the last word, Thing2 returned to earth and, for the first time all morning, stood completely still.

“I don’t want to do ballet,” he said very seriously.

“Why not?” I asked my youngest who had just performed a running split worthy of Baryshnikoff.

“Ballet is for girls,” he said as he raised his arm and began to spin around the breakfast table.

I struggled for a appropriate response, wondering what killjoy had infected my six-year-old’s psyche with the hangups of the world outside our door. He dances, he sings, he wears capes and wigs, and the Big Guy and I have been united in our feeling that if a boy does it, it’s a boy’s activity. Ballet shouldn’t be any different.

Swallowing my ire I refocused on his love of movement and music and gave him a list of reasons to take the class – regardless of the title. We pulled up a few dance videos on YouTube. And when the real Barysnikoff jumped across the monitor, Thing2 didn’t ask if he was watching ballet. There was only one question on his mind.

“How did he learn to jump that high?” he asked. Dinner hour was intruding, and I didn’t have a chance to answer, but it seemed the ballet dilemma had been put to rest. I got the confirmation Saturday night.

Thing2, inspired by a lego display at the Worlds Fair in Tunbridge, VT, had put together his own lego gallery on his desk. Promoting his opening was a hastily scribbled placard advertising an after-dinner evening of art, conversation and, of course, dancing in what is now exclusively his room.

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Thing2’s party was an unqualified success. We admired, we chatted, and we danced. When the party was over, he stayed up a little longer, and, oblivious to anyone else’s conventions or labels, he continued to dance.  I think he, too, knows the real world is out there waiting to tie his feet to the ground, but in this house he’s still the Master of Ceremonies.