“So You Think You Can’t Dance?” Part 2: Happy Dances

There are two sides to every argument; just as there are reasons NOT to dance, there are many reasons to cut a rug…or trip on the rug and unexpectedly create a new dance move, possibly resulting in demonstrating for ER staff. While dancing may be great exercise, enhance flexibility and grace, boost brain function, and be a great bonding activity,  those are not the types of benefits I want to address.

I am in favor of dancing simply because as individuals participating in this team sport called life, we need to celebrate the small victories. I believe one of the best ways is with a full-body laugh and a ‘happy dance’.

Comedian Anita Renfroe defines happy dance as when someone feels so happy about something that you just spontaneously break into a dance. i. e. Wide receivers in the end zone, the last out of the final baseball game in the World Series, or any woman finding a cute pair of shoes in her size on the 75 percent off sales rack. The little things in life make all the difference. I love pulling up to a red light to see a car dance-party. I may have joined in on more than one occasion. The red lights of life can really get you down if you don’t pull out the invisible salt shakers and shake on some seasoning.

Back in the days where “Fearing the Reaper” was more common that fearing Y2K, there was a trend in professional football that impacted our home: the touchdown victory dance. The moves varied widely, but a spiked football, wobbly leg moves, arm waving, and an occasional ‘white man’s overbite’ would us in celebration. Now we live in days of “excessive celebration” penalties and spiking the ball prompts a new move called, “flag on the play”. (I just busted out that dance move at my son who stopped rearranging the Tupperware containers long enough to shake his head at me. Sigh. I am no longer cool.)  Granted, there are times where celebrations can get a little out of hand. I’ve never pulled a Sharpie out of my sock to autograph freshly washed dishes after an awesome Tuesday night dinner but there is something glorious about a 300 lb man doing a combination of the Sprinkler and Lord of the Dance move. There are times where celebrations are necessary—or else the sweet, mundane things of life will pass us by. Imagine the NFL fines that would be slapped on parents during potty-training! Excessive celebration? I think NOT. What may be mundane and ordinary for some may be amazing accomplishments to others. Sometimes a crucial ‘first and ten’ is as exciting as a hail-Mary for the touchdown.

I grew up in a house that firmly endorsed ‘happy dancing.’ “Little victories” were corporately celebrated with cheers, high fives, and move-bustin’. On report card days it was best to keep a leg’s distance away from all other family members, just in case. When Firstborn was barely scooting on a blanket and starting to give his first smiles, my sister put on a VeggieTales sing-a-long he enjoyed and danced to try ease his crankiness. It was epic; she looked like a marionette in a tornado. Hence, she received his first laugh. At this new sound, everyone came running. The joy quickly multiplied until laughter filled the home; celebrating new life will do that.

I am a firm believer that when joy rises up in you, it’s great to let it out. Lately I’ve heard some criticism about over-praising small children at the risk of making them believe they should be perpetually praised and receive a trophy for existing. While there are certainly good points to be made for methodology, I am not about to stop clapping and cheering when Firstborn finally says a new word we’ve been practicing for weeks, sits on the potty chair, or chooses to obey the first time when it’s obviously not his preference. He can think he did a good job without believing he’s perfect.  When he catches a ball for the first time, I will probably do a dance worthy of an NFL end-zone. Wide-receivers make millions for doing the same thing and running it to a certain piece of turf. While I don’t cheer every mundane event, I do believe in treasuring the little things- especially those under 4 feet tall.

For better or worse, we are surrounded by dancing. Especially as a mother of boys, I enjoy pictures of my friends’ pint-sized ballerinas in fluffy tutus, twirling about and enjoying childhood. I am now acutely aware of which animated films have dance party options on the DVD menu. In my world, cartoon lemurs like to move it- move it, penguins have happy feet, and Brazilian birds have coordinated dance moves for Rio’s Carnival. The more ‘animated’ characters in my life remind me that as I try to keep some balance and rhythm in this home, it doesn’t hurt to show my joy. The fantastic can become boring if it isn’t celebrated. Hubby consistently rolls his eyes when I start a load of dirty clothes and then dance to the rhythm of the agitator. In fact, most of my best dance moves come from my to-do list. Wax on, wax off, paint the fence. Wash the windows, turn on the sprinkler, groove while workin’ at the carwash.  Housework Dance party!

So today I will do some celebration dances and let my big old belly wiggle. There are certainly times where it is helpful to “be still” and rest but as long as I have to careen through a busy schedule today, I am determined to press on like I’m headed for an end-zone. I may not be near it yet, but in the meantime there is a lot to celebrate.



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