Barnyard Dance

20160816_091819This post is a part of my “Board Book Beauty – Savoring the small as I read to my toddler” series. To see all of the posts in the series, go here.

With errands to do and nap time fast approaching, I scan the titles available in the board book section at the library, anxious to make my selections and go. I spot a Sandra Boynton title – Barnyard Dance – and add it to my stack without hesitation. She hasn’t failed me yet.

We run our errands and head home. After Katie’s nap, we snuggle on the couch with our new borrowed treasures. I read Barnyard Dance once, then twice, then three times, and I smile, because Boynton has lived up to my faith in her once again.

For the first repetition, Katie sits next to me, looking at the pictures and absorbing the words. But for every time after that, she’s down on the floor, performing the actions as I call them out. On occasion, she’ll take a peek at the book or look at me with a question in her eyes, trying to determine the right move. For the most part, however, she does them without looking at the book, bowing and trotting and skittering with abandon.

This is a perfect book for her. She loves to dance, Katie does. When not prompted to specific moves, her method is high-energy, full of running. In fact, it’s mostly running, making laps around our living room with her ponytail bouncing, her arms waving. She laughs as she does so, free in the feel of it, completely unashamed and unaware of her body as she moves.

“Come dance with me, Daddy, Mama, Abby!” she cries, and we do. We’re more awkward though, too self-aware, too versed in how dance is supposed to look to give ourselves over to the music as she does.

She’ll grow out of this phase. One day, she’ll almost certainly be too self-conscious, too self-aware to let her joy loose in the living room as Slugs and Bugs plays in the background. She’ll learn that dance requires specific moves, specific skill sets. She’ll contain herself, ever conscious of how the world sees her.

I hope that day is a long time in coming.

Dance, sweet girl, dance.

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