Dance On

She smiled, flashed her big brown eyes open wide in anticipation, before scooting over and asking what I knew she would ask.

“Daddy, will you dance with me?”

Dancing. It terrifies me. On the other hand, I don’t mind looking like a fool on the dance floor because other than a slow dance, I know that’s how I’ll look.

Now my oldest daughter, Shawnna, who was 14 years old at the time, was asking to dance with me at her basketball fund-raiser in the school cafeteria.

There’s only one answer. “Absolutely!”

There were lots of girls there, only a handful of guys, and even fewer fathers.  If you lined all the other males up and rated them from first to last on the dance floor, I would by far be last, dead last.  I didn’t, no wait, I still don’t know how to two-step.

Shawnna is a very kind, observant daughter and knew I would dance, but also knew I didn’t like dancing because quite frankly, I don’t know how.  As if our roles reversed, she smiled, took my hand and said, “Come with me. I’ll teach you.”

Dance On Daughter story

Out in the hallway where no one else could see, she and her best friend at the time, patiently showed me how to step and slide my feet in rhythm to the song.  She inherently followed.

It was way, like other side of the world way, out of my comfort zone.  Holding hands as we danced, I moved awkwardly, but together. It started slowly, very slowly, to sink in on how to two-step.  Her best friend stepped in and gave me some pointers.

Then Shawnna cut back in and continued the lesson.  With roles reversed, I’ve never forgotten her words.

“Just move, Daddy. Wherever you go, I’ll follow your lead. Don’t worry about making a mistake. If I follow, it won’t be a mistake.”

In so many ways her words were wise far beyond her years, and they grabbed my heart for a lifetime.

As her father, I made mistakes, unintentional, but still mistakes. Sometimes I stepped on toes. Moved out of tune. Tripped at times. Even falling down occasionally.

I did some things right. I think, or maybe just want to believe, that I did more right than wrong.  What I remember most are my mistakes in my parenting dance, not the smooth dances.  I remember when I was out of sync for what was needed at the time, and when I blew it for the best interest of my child’s future.

By and large, I danced the parenting dance the best I could.  I wish it was perfect. It wasn’t.

Shawnna stepped back and with questioning eyes, “Are you ready?”

“Let’s boogie!”

On the dance floor, I was terrible. Truly, terrible.  But between my daughter and her best friend, I got through, and honestly, I wouldn’t trade that time for anything.

Trying to two-step with my beautiful daughter, I remember looking in her smiling, big brown eyes.

I remember thinking about her future.  In those moments I saw it coming to fruition. And everything I imagined and hoped for her has, and is, coming true.

Today she’s a well-adjusted, successful, kind, competent woman, a person you just feel at peace being around.  She’s a good mother to a newborn son, a loving wife to her husband, an understanding teacher to 4th graders, a graceful loyal friend, and a pride and joy to her father.Dance OnAfter two-stepping for what seemed an eternity, I decided to switch from traditional dance to a few spastic moves of my own.

Somewhere in a cross between pop, rock, break and pole dancing, I danced like Sponge Bob in muriatic acid.  In 30 seconds I went from a poor dancer but trying, to a nutcase on steroids!

All the other kids thought it was great! Not Shawnna.  She stopped, looked in disbelief, then turned walking away in embarrassment with her hand covering her eyebrows.

Yes!! Father success!

Parenting is a strange job. Every parent knows there will be a time when their children begin to dance without them.  From total dependence to independence, we raise them to lose them, but never stop loving them.

Like a time traveler, I saw it back then dancing with my 14-year-old daughter.  That dance is but a memory, but I’ll never forget.

It wasn’t the dance. It was the person.  It wasn’t the then.  It was everything past, present and future.

What has been, was. What is, is. What will be, shall.

She was, and is, a Princess of the Most High God, and in my heart, will always be Daddy’s little girl.

And so the dance continues.

Dance On Princess
Shawnna and I dancing at a wedding a year later

35 thoughts on “Dance On”

  1. Wow, now that was beautiful. Those are the rare gems that infrequently fall on our laps without any forewarning and they are truly beautiful. Thank you for sharing that. For your next post why don’t you give the five questions that you always answer yes to for your wife! No pressure! And yes, I’m smiling!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wonderful post. This is a heartwarming story that touches on so many elements of life and of Fathers and Daughters. I can see you dancing and it does not matter one iota that you are not Fred Astaire because your heart is Gene Kelly!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, how very sweet, Jeff. I only wish I could have had those experiences as I wish my daughter could have had them too. You are a great dad and it shows in all of your poetic artwork. Your words are lovely and bring tears to my eyes as I’m writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kathy, I really appreciate your kindness and encouragement! I’m sorry, my friend, that neither you or your daughter had those experiences. May the Father in heaven give you both a double portion of blessings!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yeah!! You’ll be the coolest mom by dancing in ways that some may call odd, but you can just say it is futuristic, cutting edge dancing!! (And yes, guaranteed to embarrass your kids!!) Lol

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I loved it! I didn’t have that kind of relationship with my dad, so I can’t identify from that perspective. But, I loved the story and the analogy to parenting, in general, which I do comprehend, as I have 4 children of my own. So, I get that totally.

    I am horrible at dancing, too. At my niece’s wedding reception some years ago, I attempted the electric slide. My big brother walked over to me and jokingly said, “Susie, it is the ‘electric slide’, not the ‘electric stomp.’ It was that bad, really. 🙂

    Thank you, Jeff, for another beautiful heartwarming story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Sue….sorry you didn’t have a relationship like that with your father. I’m sure you were able to pour even more into your own kids from what you went without.

      I would (wink, wink) like to learn how to do the “electric stomp”!! Peace to you, Sue!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, Jeff! Yes, I did a lot with my kids, and still do, and with my grandkids, too. Oh , the electric stomp is quite easy. Just do what you do naturally on the dance floor, and you’ve got it down pat. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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