The Dance of Innocence


Last Friday, I went on my first date with another man: my son. Several weeks ago, I learned of a local mother-son dance, and I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to watch my toddler thrash to fun music.

Well, at least this is how I envisioned our night would look.

Sometimes when I am driving or when the kids are asleep, I recall the wilder days of my youth. I lived for the beats, the rhymes, and the hooks. Dancing affords indescribable freedom, which made it one of my favorite ways to connect with others, especially those men that I so foolishly pursued.

Those days, of course, are now long behind me. In my 20s, I happily traded long nights and questionable decisions for stability and purpose, and I no longer value popular trends.

Thus, when my son and I arrived at our special event, I experienced mommy culture shock. Are they playing trap music? How do all the mothers know those dance moves? Have I been living under a rock?

And then it happened.

In the middle of the dance floor, a large group of boys began grinding their hips and distributing invisible cash in the way that a high school dropout at the local strip club might. They could not have been older than 10. And they were dressed in their Sunday best.

It was there, in the middle of a crowded, chaotic dance floor, that I realized an important truth: I am raising my children differently. I may be preventing my kids from sexually explicit lyrics and adult behaviors, but other mothers aren’t, and they are likely indulging in those very things themselves.

Perhaps they never tasted the other side of college, or perhaps they are fighting to hold onto what was once lost.

Of course, little boys will be little boys. My son and I never shared one of those priceless mother-son dances, but we did briefly sway to incoherent lyrics after we filled our bellies with chocolate. I was reminded that being together is the best treat of all – the only one that will remain.

And those kids on the dance floor? By the end of the night, they had covered the entire lawn surrounding the banquet hall. Their performance was over, and they were free to run in the shadows of twilight – improvising the rules to their own games.

Our world is one of dark lyrics, and I think parenthood is the journey back to our own forgotten innocence. And, in this dance, it is only our children who can lead.

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