My family and I went to a party last night. (Screeeeech. Full stop. Me? A party? Yeah.) It was a fundraiser for a rare genetic disorder that one of BG's friends has. Which, in theory is a sad thing, but he's doing really well, so it was a good news, celebratory kind of night. Three hundred people (eep!) were there to support this family and to help find a cure for this disease. As ways to spend a Saturday, it was pretty rad.
We walked in the door, and I looked nervously around for someone I knew to sit with. BG heard music and ran straight to the dance floor. I stood on the edge and watched as my three year old girl ran right into the middle of things and started busting a move. There was music, there were kids, she was dancing. For her, there was never a question, never a hesitation.
I loaded up a plate with fried chicken and pasta. BG danced. I had a beer and a cupcake. BG ran around with a friend. I fed the baby. BG played. I don't remember saying more than 5 words to other moms that were anything other than "Look at them go, they're so cute." And that was okay.
With the baby on my hip, I stood on the edge of the dance floor swaying and singing along to Dancing Queen. I wasn't really worried about who was watching me. It was okay to be a little silly.
As the night wore on, most of the kids we knew started leaving, or at least running out of steam and sitting down. The dance floor started being more and more dominated by a group of slightly older - maybe 5 or 6 years old - who seemed to all know each other, holding hands in a circle, and playing rambunctiously.
My little girl wanted nothing more than to be in that circle.
She ran over and stood near them, smiling expectantly. They kept playing as if they didn't even see her. Maybe they didn't. They broke the circle and ran, laughing uproariously, across the room. BG chased after them. Still, no one acknowledged her. They rejoined hands, and still no one took her hand. She stood on the outside of the circle and started to frown.
I put my hand on her shoulder and said "Do you want to dance with me?"
"Nooooo!" she screamed and sat down on the floor in the middle of the dance floor.
I sat down next to her, balancing little sister on my knee.
"Why doesn't anyone want to dance with me?"
No one had done anything wrong. No one was intentionally snubbing my little girl. No one owed anyone an apology. But here was BG, sitting on the floor in the middle of a party, on the outside. My heart, it split open a little.
What could I say that would fix this? "But they're older. I think they know each other already. You can play with me, with little sister. We can go find someone you know and sit with them."
It was late.
It was hot.
It was loud.
She hadn't napped.
She'd had too much sugar, maybe, and not enough dinner.
None of that was why it hurt.
My daughter is brave. She is kind. She is vulnerable and open and confident. She loves everyone she meets. All she wants to do is dance, play, laugh.
I'm so afraid the world is going to break her. I don't want her to turn into me.
So I just sat there with her and said "I know. I know." I know.