Three weeks into our more formal school year, and I am still trying to get out of the fast lane. We just returned from traveling with the husband, and this weekend was our time to buy dancewear for the season beginning in three days. The added dynamics included this year being our youngest daughter’s first year as a budding ballerina (can’t wait to take pictures), and with the store where we usually purchase shoes and clothes closing last October, we had to do some calling around to find shoes for my son. Yes, my son loves tap and ballet—and he’s good at both.
This is his fourth year in the dance program, and I have to admit that his father and I were, shall we say, nervous about putting him in a program that struggled to keep a single boy in it, and has never as long as we’ve been there had more than one boy. In the early days, I was very protective of him as I know how cruel kids and, unfortunately, some adults can be when kids don’t fall into stereotypical interests and activities. Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for not turning our boys into sissies by stripping them of their God-given boyishness. But I have to wonder if, in the name of raising strong men, we’ve not reached an area when the pendulum has swung the other way. Are we guilty of the reverse of the modern-day feminist movement, which seeks to glorify every aspect of our daughters’ budding womanhood except that of becoming a wife and mother? Have we convinced ourselves that a “manly man” can’t spring from a boy who loves the performing arts?
In my years of watching male dancers, I’ve seen men who are as buff as anyone I’ve seen on a sports court or playing field. I also applaud my son that his interests, at least today, are quite varied—he began learning basketball last year, and he plays tennis. His ability to pirouette and sashay is no more of a flaw in him than my passion for the NFL is in me. (Incidentally, he also watches parts of the games and regularly enjoys Sportscenter with us). I tell you what else has happened in the now four years since he took his first class:
- He’s no longer a sensitive kid, crying every time someone questions him or pokes fun at him about dancing.
- He’s a confident kid who’s proud of himself and ready to show off his skill rather than ‘hide it under a bushel.’
- He can articulate to anyone, kid or adult, why it’s unacceptable to him to be laughed at or mocked about his ability.
- He is learning to believe in himself and to do what he loves regardless of how many choose to applaud him.
For these reasons and more, he’s admired by many parents in the program, and I believe that when the time comes, he’ll have more than his share of women to be a manly, and moreover, a Godly man with, beginning with an admiring crowd of female classmates! What he’s learned in his willingness to continue to dance he would have never gotten, at least as early as 8 years of age, on a testosterone-laden Little League bus. He is, in the words of the great poet Robert Frost, taking ‘the road less traveled by, and that will make all the difference.’ Praise God.