Posted by Duff

The first time we went to The Dervish’s preschool, she was two, and we were scouting it out for full-time daycare. I was a little worried about how she’d react to changing daycares twice within a few months, but I needn’t have been.

As the director gave us a tour of her would-be room, the teacher called “Line up for outside time!” and The Dervish, not yet a member of the class, was the first one in line. “Everyone outside!” she called, and led the troop out the double doors onto the playground. I moved into the doorway to watch, since this was brand new for me, too.

“She likes outside,” observed the director.

“She does, ” I answered, still watching, “but she likes leading lines even more.”

So what happened yesterday shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me.  I walked into The Dervish’s preschool class after lunch – when the other kids stay for afternoon daycare and she comes home – and found her in the center of the room, surrounded by a rapt audience of three and four year olds, many of them still eating.

The Dervish was spinning, arms wide, singing the “Ahh-Ahh-Ahh” bars of Ariel’s (The Little Mermaid) voice being released from the magic seashell. You know, the melodic female version of Tarzan swinging through the trees. Then she launched into:

Out where they walk (sung to one side of the room)
Out where they run (sung to the other side)
Out where they stay all day in theeeee suuuuuuun (sung to the sky, full throttle)

(pause for effect – I’m not kidding)
Wandering free (quieter, arms outstretched)
Wish I could be (arms clasped to her chest, wistful)
Part of youuuur woooooorlddddd! (I swear there was an orchestra backing her here)

I have to be honest. The first thought I had was My child has the worst table manners of these fifteen preschoolers. I have failed her.  I removed myself, stood in the hallway, and hid my face behind my hand. Then I noticed –there were tears in my eyes. Because I was so damn proud of her. Not for her absence of table manners or her vocal stylings (she’s not pageant bound), but for her confidence, and even more for her conviction.

Three year olds are masters of memory and imitation. But beyond her mother, who is unable to be objective, she had those  kids believing in her. She finished to full, unprompted applause, and more than one standing ovation. As the other kids settled into their cots, they asked Ariel to tuck them in.

I’ve been living in the post-preschool world far too long, because I was surprised that none of them seemed annoyed by her behavior, none of them rolled their eyes or dubbed her Attention Whore like we of the middle school and upward set tend to do (Who does she think she is?). There was good will toward her performance all around.

While still measuring her behavior against her peers’ for inappropriateness, I hoped with all my might that she won’t lose this zeal to the seemingly inevitable self-consciousness that’s the by-product of others’ creeping opinions. And I remembered how much my opinion will mean, even if she claims not to need my backing.

Because this Dervish-variety apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  And she is an inspirational reminder to her old lady that life is meant to be lived out loud.

You go, girl.