The January Rhythm

I have never been a particularly good dancer. Or even a dancer at all.

There was a short period of time when I was convinced I was the next Debbie Gibson. I put on shows for my family in my bedroom, but even I realized my energy was misplaced and gave up on that dream quickly. I took to the stage exactly once after the age of 10. In seventh grade I gave my Hollywood dreams one last shot and belted out a horrible but heartfelt rendition of “Stand By Me” for the Middle School musical. It was clear to all that wasn’t where my talents lay.

I spent my teens and twenties content to be a listener rather than a producer of music. The exception was my babies. Their midnight bouts of crying inspired many spontaneous songs and rhymes in a most often failed attempt to quiet them.

When I became an early childhood teacher I quickly learned that singing was part of the gig. I knew all the benefits of songs and rhymes, but my years of silence made it difficult to lead even the most basic song with my four and five year olds. Last year I had the opportunity to participate in some professional development focused on music. I pushed myself to go knowing that it was an important part of my teaching and a definite hole in my repertoire.

It was a long, difficult weekend for me. Those that are musically inclined probably find it laughable that those 48 hours caused me so much grief, but man, were they stressful. Assessments of my improvisation skills, basic music competence, and ability to lead a group song confirmed everything I knew about my {lack of} musical skills.

I tried. I imitated my peers as best I could. I clapped when they clapped, though perhaps a second or two behind, I followed the teachers’ directions, and when all else failed I tried to fake it. I smiled and moved and ignored the strangling feeling in the pit of my stomach.

So much of January reminds me of that music class. Getting back into the work and school routine makes me feel awkward and out of sync. I am doing my best to follow along, but I keep losing the beat. I find myself looking at my colleagues-imitating their movements in an attempt to look as if I am keeping time just the fine, but the truth is I feel exhausted and I would like to bow out of the whole song.

I know it gets better. I’ll find the words I need. First I’ll join in on the chorus and later grow brave enough to lead my own song.

Until then, I’ll just fake it.

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