Susan's Blog

Monday, November 26, 2007

Meat-And-Potatoes Play

It seems to me that perhaps the thing that makes an interaction more enjoyable is if you join with the other person, in the moment, to whatever degree possible. This is something I learned, and keep on learning, with Nat. I remember us sitting in his little play tent in his room and I had no idea what to say or do next so I just started wiggling my mouth and being silly. “I’m Mrs. Sillymouth,” I said, channeling Adam Sandler; Nat imitated me, saying, “Mrs. SillyMouse.” So I became Mrs. SillyMouse. It wasn’t earth-shattering fun; it was just meat-and-potatoes play, but it was exactly what we felt like doing just then. I felt free; my breath came easily, my legs were “Indian style,” (that can’t be the best way to say it); my back was comfortably curved. Nat was close to me and he was smiling.

Today I only had two Baby Bellies in my class; the raw weather is starting to claim its victims. At first it was a little stark and quiet, just playing that Arabic music, which I think of as: “almost-out-of-tune-but-just-enough-melody-to-be-tantalizing.” Little J was watching me quietly with wide brown eyes and Little E was running around, bumping into the walls. The hour stretched before me, yawning and empty. I heard my thoughts start to churn nervously, as they have been the last few weeks in Baby Bellies, with those warped inner tapes of mine, “You don’t know how to teach, you don’t know how to engage them, what makes you think you can do this, you’re just a flakey hausfrau.” I felt my big fat heart start to fold up on itself, watching Little E rolling senselessly on the gym mats. “Gym mats!” I thought. “In a bellydance class! That doesn’t go! Make them stop and pay attention to you!” (My tapes go up to eleven.)

But not today. I just turned down the sound of self-destruction as much as I could, turned up Hakim, and forgot my Adult Self and started playing, right along with the little girls. The mats were blue, so they were water. I said, “Watch out, this is the alligator pit.” Little E lit up and started walking on the “ropes” that went across the pit. And Little J started being a mermaid in the water. Perfect. I took the sea-green veil and moved it through the air like water or fins. Before long, they were off the mat, and showing me a dance routine they made up on the spot. It had a few elements that I recognized: spinning with a veil, throwing your veil like a flower, and choo-choo steps. I couldn’t have been prouder.

I won’t say the hour flew by but I think we got in some good meat-and-potatoes dance moves, and some really great mermaid flips in between.


Being wholly yourself, especially in the presence of children, is the much-philosophized and elusive “meaning of life.”

Congratulations for finding it. Few do.

— added by Don on Monday, November 26, 2007 at 5:15 pm

“Indian Style” can’t be the best way to say it – you said – so here’s one for you. 🙂 Most in my son’s class call it “Criss – Cross Applesauce”. Okay – going back to read the rest. Love your blog!!! Natty is a sweet boy and I just can’t read enough about him – as with ALL of your boys and family. 🙂 Best wishes to you and yours.

— added by Anonymous on Monday, November 26, 2007 at 11:42 pm

Yoga style? I think the PC term is “cross-legged” (how stupid!)

What you did with the girls was brilliant. And your play with Nat is a reminder to me (and other moms) that sometimes all I need to do is SOMETHING. It doesn’t have to be the “right” thing.

— added by Niksmom on Tuesday, November 27, 2007 at 2:18 pm

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