When my daughter was eight years old, I walked in on her while she was playing alone in my bedroom. She didn’t see me standing there, and what I saw upon entering the room made me stop in my tracks, and I think my heart may have stopped for a second as well.
She was dancing around the room. She was carefree and caught up in her moment of uninhibited, enthusiastic dance. At least that’s what it looked like to me. What stopped me so abruptly was the way she was dancing. She was swaying her upper and lower body in a leisurely, exaggerated way, almost like she was maneuvering her way down a walkway…on her way to a pole. She was moving her eight year old body in a way no eight year old should move. It was provocative and sensual, and there’s nothing okay about associating those two descriptors with an eight year old, ever.
A hundred thoughts ran through my head at once as I observed what she was doing, and all of them made me very uncomfortable. How do you tell an eight year old that she shouldn’t dance like that because it’s not appropriate? Where did she learn to dance like that? Did she see it on TV? What the hell has she been watching? We blocked all the channels on her TV we didn’t think she should watch! I am taking the TV out of her room! How am I going to talk to her about this in a way she’ll understand? I can’t tell her to stop dancing like a stripper because she’s not supposed to know what a stripper is. Does she know what a stripper is? Holy Shit! What if she does? Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God! I’m not ready to have this conversation!
I took a few deep breaths and forced myself to calm down. I would just talk to her. I would not make her feel bad, and I would encourage her to be herself, and maybe suggest we sign her up for dance classes. Ballet would be good. Yeah, ballet isn’t anything like stripping. There’s no movement in ballet that resembles pole dancing, at all. Good plan, deep breath…
The conversation went like this…
”Hey honey, what are you doing?”
“Hi, Mommy! I’m pretending to be a cat! I have a tail like a cat, and if I move like this, I can move like a cat! Don’t I move like a cat, Mommy? Wouldn’t it be cool to have a tail like a cat?!”
“Yeah, honey. That would be awesome.”
Then I left the room, went downstairs, poured myself a glass of wine and admitted to myself that I take this parenting shit way too seriously.