As Elle, Emme and I strolled through Telluride Town Park the other morning, the echoing rumble of a merengue beat guided us towards the big white tent standing like a beacon in the middle of the Park.
“Mom, it must be a celebration!” Elle said, wide-eyed, pulling my arm like an excited puppy.
“Celebration” has been on my 4-year-old’s radar of late, thanks to the festive energy that engulfs our hometown this time of year. As soon as Telluride sheds its blanket of snow and ice, we – eager wildflowers who’ve waited beneath winter’s crush for so many months – erupt in a showy display of noise and color.
Music festivals, sporting events, the Fourth of July holiday; our summer may be fleeting, but we make up for its brevity by packing everything we can into each long, sun-kissed summer day here in our little box canyon.
So of course Elle assumes that if we hear booty-shaking Latin music early on a Monday morning in the Town Park, it must mean that we’re in for yet another “celebration.”
“Honey, I’m not exactly sure it’s a party we’re invited to,” I tried to explain, although I too was intrigued by what I could only guess was a Zumba dance class, blaring eclectic percussion beats into the still morning air.
Well, a young girl wearing a silky pink kitty-cat nightgown beneath a sparkly purple tutu is invited pretty much anywhere she goes (as she very well knows), so within minutes of showing up as spectators to this morning Zumba class my oldest daughter is beckoned to join these women shaking their booty and stomping their feet in the name of exercise. Elle rushes towards them like a moth to a flame, her toile and frills flapping, oblivious to the exercise part while solely attentive to the parts that truly speak to the soul of a little girl: music – and dancing, with other girls.
Indeed, why wouldn’t one join an early morning dance party, if given the opportunity?
So it isn’t long before 2-year-old Emme and I have joined in too, flapping our arms and shaking our hips in time to the music (or in Emme’s case, wildly bobbing her head side-to-side and sporadically thrusting her arms into the air, completely out-of-time with the music). Though I tell myself I’m barging in on this Zumba class because my kids wanted me to, I not-so-secretly welcome this spontaneous opportunity to stomp my feet and flap my arms in rhythm with a group of smiling, spandex-clad women.
Another mom with another little girl happens by, and though this girl is younger than Emme, even, it’s the same moth-to-a-flame scene all over again. The three little girls skip and jump and hold hands and giggle, while the half-dozen or so adult girls execute a similar performance, minus the handholding.
In the midst of a dynamic tango, the other mother – also unprepared for this impromptu Zumba but doing her best, like me, in jeans and flip-flops – shrugs her shoulders at me in smiling amazement.
“So this is just what it’s like to have kids,” she remarks, gazing adoringly at the 18-month-old who’s bobbing up and down at her feet.
“Well, girls at least,” I laugh, and we continue to dance.
What it’s like to have kids is to never feel like you have a moment to yourself. It’s like trying to stay afloat in the deep end of the pool while being pounded with Styrofoam noodles. It’s a long and exhausting ride, the soundtrack to which is a continual litany of “Why?” and “Mom!” and “I want,” and “When are we going to be there?”
Having kids is also like stumbling upon a celebration, every morning of your life. A child’s inherent sense of wonder at the world around them, her it’s the blare of Latin drums beckoning them from across the park, or the simple sight of a butterfly alighting on a dandelion in your driveway, is a perpetual cause for celebration. In the capricious and fanciful world of a child, it is possible to stumble upon a random dance party on a Monday morning, and meet Snow White at the playground, and eat only the pink sprinkles off the top of a donut – all before lunchtime.
And it’s all cause for celebration.