My three-year-old daughter, Gloria, joined me in the studio today. While I rehearsed, she played for a while by herself, but eventually she left her toys and distractions and walked right up to the mirror. Gloria’s immediate response to seeing her own reflection? Singing (loudly). And dancing (or at least spinning).
Despite my attempts to keep her calm so that I could work, Gloria was unabashed. It didn’t matter that she didn’t know the words to her own songs. It didn’t matter to her that anyone else was in the room. She didn’t once self-criticize. This is the way I know most toddlers to behave, and it wasn’t out of the norm for her. She lives her little three-year-old life like this pretty much everyday.
My “normal” is to smile and indulge her for a moment, but then to try and somehow corral this behavior. Even though I don’t necessarily fault her for acting like this while I’m trying to get something done, I often complain about it, and even use it as an excuse for why I can’t seem to get anything done. Anyone who has spent even five minutes with a toddler understands this. But I sometimes wish that my “normal” looked a little more like hers.
My mother started taking me to dance classes when I was three years old. I remember knowing what day of the week it was (Monday), because it was the day I got to dance. I remember putting on my ballet shoes and I remember looking in the mirror. I remember holding on to the ballet bar. I don’t recall much of anything else. But I do remember loving Mondays with all my heart.
Everyone tells me that Gloria looks just like me. Sometimes people even say the words: “She is little Mele.” But as soon as I outwardly acknowledge our likeness, I find myself inwardly rejecting the idea. I think Gloria is beautiful, but I don’t really want to look like her. I often feel the need to remind myself that she is not me; I feel the need to corral the very idea of it, and to put a nice strong fence between me and that three-year-old little girl. But I wonder if God has a good reason, maybe even a hundred good reasons, for giving me a child that is my doppelganger. Maybe He wants me to see something every time I look at her. Maybe He is trying to tell me something.