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A(nother) Song And Dance (Wo)Man

Following in a long and illustrious line
of family members before her, Cora is showing every inclination of
heading towards the footlights.

I shouldn’t be surprised; after all, Maddie’s favorite
thing in the world to do is put on a ballet skirt, some classical
music, and dance around the room. And when she’s not dancing
she’s coaxing music out of all the baby toys and asking me to
teach her the lyrics to the tunes. How many times can one girl sing
“Oh, Susannah”?? (Answer: current record is

So how can I wonder where Cora’s
learning it? Well, this household is not the same sort that Maddie
spent her babyhood in; there’s no daily music time with
Mommy, or regular “dancing” sessions either. I just
don’t have the time and our routine’s been in too much
upheaval. Which means, of course, that Mommy Guilt’s been in
overdrive on that aspect as well: Cora will grow up with zero
appreciation of the arts, absolutely no rhythm whatsoever, and
completely tone deaf. Without intentionality in it, I feared that
music and dance just didn’t exist in our lives.

But it’s become clear that Maddie has learned her lessons
well, and demands a high level of daily entertainment value, which
can’t help but rub off on Cora.

First, the singing – Cora’s quite the crooner.
She’s always been very talkative, and I remember marveling
when she was about five months old and her newborn babble and coo
turned into something much more intentional – some obvious
attempts to make specific sounds, to communicate. But even as her
communication skills sharpen, and she comes out with her rough
“Dada” and “Mama”, she’s begun
singing – there’s just no other word for it.

Cora sings when she’s happy, when all is right with the
world. It’s as if she has so much joy in her heart that mere
words simply can’t express it, so she must burst into song a
la a Disney movie. This often happens when she’s got a
fistful of Cheerios which she waves about as she sings gleefully,
but I’ll also catch her singing to herself as she plays with
(read: trashes) the toy kitchen, baking (read: throwing) to her
heart’s content. It’s like some happy version of Sweeny
Todd, where Cora’s warbling out a tune while wielding a
rolling pin. I’ve tried to get the singing on video, but so
far no luck.

Then there’s the dancing, and it was my mother who first
noticed it. Cora often finds herself standing around on the fringe
during play time: she’s looking longingly at Maddie, dying to
join in whatever her big sister is doing, but chained to the
furniture until she can walk unassisted. So I’ll see her with
a big grin on her face, her eyes never leaving Maddie, straining
away from the coffee table and holding on as little as she possibly
can. Everything Maddie does, Cora wants to do, and Cora’
spent a lot of time listening to the adults say, “Go Maddie!
Dance! Yeah! Good job!”

One afternoon my mother realized that when she encouraged Maddie to
dance, Cora started waving her one free arm wildly around, almost
throwing her upper body into it. “Dance, Cora, dance!”
Mom shouted, and Cora did it again, grinning from ear to ear at
being included. Now she’s so proud of herself that
she’ll “dance” sitting down, and all it takes is
a “Dance, Cora, dance!” and she’ll start wiggling
her head and waving her upper body while still tied to her high

I think Cora truly enjoys music and dance for their own sakes, but
I also sense she’s pushing herself to “catch up”
to everyone else so she can go from watching in the wings to living
life alongside the rest of us. Can you really blame her?
We’re always belting out tunes, real or made up, and dancing
around the kitchen while cooking, and who wouldn’t want to be
a part of that?

I’m hoping she’ll stick to the theatre arts and not get
too interested in musical instruments – Maddie, after all,
“plays” the guitar, piano, violin, and drums, and I
simply can’t afford all the private lessons I see coming in
our future – but I think it’s a lost cause. Every time
Maddie distributes the family handheld musical instruments, Cora
eagerly snatches up whatever she’s offered. She can jingle
her bell with the best of them, I tell you, and bangs out a mean
rhythm on the bongos.

So I guess I don’t, as I said earlier, wonder where she gets
it: the wonder is that she didn’t start any earlier.

And for those of you who can decipher baby videos, here’s
Cora’s first dance performance captured on tape –
remember folks, you saw it here, at a mere ten months old!


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