My daughter had the opportunity to take ballet this year from a sweet and talented girl. She opened her home and heart to offer her talent, free of charge, because she loves to dance and she loves to teach. My daughter and 5 other girls were the recipients of a beautiful experience. It was such a blessing.
The year of learning and hard work culminated in an adorable recital, hosted by one of the families, with an enjoyable potluck dinner and socializing afterward. When it came time to order the costumes, my daughter was elated when she saw the picture, and then she quickly said, with a sad voice, “I can’t be in the show.”
As most ballet costumes are, they were immodest. I reassured my daughter that I would work with her teacher and see if we could find a solution. We talked about how pleasing God is always more important than pleasing man, even your friends and ballet teacher. We also talked about how the desire to show others what you can do is not humility but pride, and while it’s not bad or wrong to share your talents, it is best to be humble and teachable. Modesty is not something to compromise for participation. I assured her that her hard work and diligence would not disappear if she didn’t get to be in the recital. They were a part of her, in her soul, and nothing could take those rewards away from her. She listened and participated in the conversation, and, as was to be expected, was sad. I don’t feel the need to make everything better for my children. I feel the need to teach them and train them.
We said a prayer. She exclaimed immediately after her amen, “Mommy! I feel happy. The spirit told me Heavenly Father loves me! Will you e-mail (teacher’s name) and tell her that it’s important to me to be modest and ask if I can wear a shirt under my recital costume?” I asked how she would feel if the answer was no. She replied with a smile, “There will be holes in the show where I am supposed to be. I don’t want my friends to be sad, or (name of teacher) to be sad. It will be sad, but I can do a show for you guys at home. That will be great!”
I sent an e-mail. We said a prayer. She prayed every night that she would be able to ‘dance modest’ in the recital. It was heart warming and wrenching all at the same time. I wanted so badly to be able to make everything work so she could dance. I knew this was not my life, but her life. I said all the mommy prayers I could.
The e-mail came about a week later. “Thank you for telling me how (daughter’s name) feels about having her shoulders covered and dressing modestly. It would be fine for her to wear a shirt underneath her costume. Please have it match in color. You may want to try a leotard instead. The shirt might bunch up and be uncomfortable.” We screamed with joy. We said a thank you prayer. She danced a beautiful dance and we had a wonderful time.
My daughter’s teacher takes ballet lessons with a large dance school. She invited her students to come see the year end performance.My two young daughters and I were so excited! We dressed up fancy and had a girls night out. I can not even pretend to put into words the excitement that filled their faces, and in turn my heart, with joy. They were even more excited than they were for the Nutcracker.
The first part of the show was filled with ity bitys, middles, and tweens, dancing ballet and tap. Then it was time. “A Taste of Swan Lake”, with my daughter’s teacher and her sister (the helper during ballet class), front and center. The first half of the show ended with 1/2 of the dance, the rest was to come after intermission. We could hardly contain ourselves. Our hopes were not let down, it was beautiful.
And then the rest of the show happened.
Hip Hop for adults followed the beautiful ballet dancing of Swan Lake. I felt like throwing up. We did not get a program upon entering the show. I had no idea. To be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t have known what it meant had I gotten a program to read. Now it is burned into my soul, forever. I whispered in my daughters ears, “This is not good music. Those outfits are not how we dress the sacred body Heavenly Father gave us. God did not intend for us to use our bodies like that.” They buried their heads in my lap and plugged their ears while I scratched their backs and twirled their ponytails.
To see these women, mothers and grandmothers, dressed like they were, and moving like that. I couldn’t beleive it. I really couldn’t. And then the crowd went wild. Absolutely, wild. The lyrics in the songs alone were enough to scorch ears and send fire (not the good kind) to my bosom.
Unfortunately, our teacher’s last dance was sandwiched among several different Hip Hop dances with children ranging in age from 3-18. Seriously? Every single time, the crowd went wild. Crazy wild, in a measurably different, and deafening, way than for ballet and tap. Every single time my daughters buried their heads, plugged their ears, and got scratches and twirls. I should have left. At least I did something.
There was a little boy (6-8) sitting in front of us. How do we expect boys to grow into men that respect the bodies God designed especially for women to conceive bodies to house the precious spirits he entrusts us with What can we possibly say when they are addicted to pornography and self stimulation. This stuff starts young, very young.
We need to take our heads out of the sand and recognize what the desensitization from: movies, books, video games, magazines, tv (and commercials), and yes, dance recitals, is leading to. There is no excuse. When we expose them to this kind of garbage, we have no ‘out’, no ‘get out of jail free card’. We are mothers. We know better, and if you think you don’t, I promise you do. Mothers know. We just have to be strong enough to stand for what we know. All the time.
I was truly perplexed that there weren’t more people than myself, twirling the ponytails of their innocent little girls (and scratching the backs of their young boys), while their faces were buried in laps with hands tightly covering their ears. Dumfounded, and really sad; that was me.
And suddenly, it hit me. Like a big Mack truck. This is it. This is the world. This is what people want. They pay money to learn how to dress like this and move their bodies in disgusting ways in front of their sons, daughters, and whatever perfect stranger will give them attention in their desperate and horribly misdirected plea for acknowledgment of their worth. They pay money to have their daughters taught that this is okay. This feels good. This is what you are worth. Horrific.
We found baby bunnies in our yard once. We accidentally came upon them while doing yard work. Their mother was out. We covered them back up and went about our business. A few hours later we went to check on them and show them to our little one that had been napping during all the excitement. They were gone.
We meant no harm, they were so cute. We are nice people. We would have protected those babies with all that we had. That momma bunny didn’t care. She smelled something and got her babies out of there. At the very first possible hint of something amiss, the very first scent of it, she bolted. There was no hemming and hawing. There was no checking with friends or neighbors to see if it might really be something damaging to their little souls. At the first scent, she was gone! She followed her heart and protected the innocence of her family. Those baby bunnies were not ours to protect, they were hers. She didn’t like what she smelled and she didn’t care what anybody else had to say about it.
I often feel alone in my views. My quest to raise children unto the Lord has me so far removed from the world, and all it’s pleasures. We avoid many things that are popular, even among LDS families, because I have been made aware by the Spirit that it is not good for us. I don’t claim to know what is best for anyone else’s family. I just know what’s best for mine. We live a quiet and happy life. It is peaceful. Somehow, the choices we make, leave lots of space for judgement. I realize judgement comes from a place of insecurity within, but sometimes it hurts and is hard to ignore.
World, you can have your Hip Hop and the music that goes with it. I understand what it means to the soul, and the consequences that are made possible because of such things, and I am going to stay away. Can you refrain from calling me a prude and a goody goody because it makes me want to run away as fast as I can? Probably not. I am going anyway. I have to answer to someone much higher than this world for myself and the way I choose to mother. Come on baby bunnies, let’s go.
All I know is I’m not home, yeah. This is not where I belong. Take this world and give me Jesus. This is not where I belong. (These words belong to a song by a christian music group. They are not my original thoughts. I couldn’t have said it better myself.)