“It’s just a grasshopper!” came the exacerbated sigh of a mom as she dragged her two young children away from the green delight.
We stood in Lincoln Park – listed the # 2 thing to do in Chicago, according to Travel Advisor. Trails twisted and turned in every direction featuring wild cats from leopards to caracoles; there were pools of water with furry otters and sleek seals; long-necked giraffes and bouncing kangaroos waited down the lane. I am sure that this well-intentioned mom started the day with great plans, a purse loaded with snack packs, and visions of smiling, cooperative children in her head. And here she stood, sweat dripping from the 91-degree day, empty snack wrappers strewn in her wake, and two children who wanted nothing more than to sit and watch a grasshopper.
If you are a parent, you’ve been there. We try to give our children the very best of everything – the best education, the best extra-curricular activities, the best vacations – the best life that we can create for them. And most days, we succeed! But there are other times that it feels like it’s all for naught.
As a dance instructor, I see how the ante has been upped in very tangible ways. Dancers used to order costumes from catalogs, now those costumes have to be custom designed and dripping with hundreds of dollars of Swarovski crystals. Dancers used to take class at a dance studio from their dance teacher – now they hop on a plane to attend conventions in a packed Vegas ballroom with TV stars. They used to perform at retirement centers for elderly residents who teared up and clapped in delight. Now, they take center stage at the Rose Bowl with fireworks and a live band in front of a national television audience. The bar gets raised higher and higher and I wonder how we will continue to boost our kids up to hold on. And to what end?
I’m sure in the mind of that zoo-visiting mom, the majestic lion was the best of that day’s adventure. Meanwhile, her two young children were perfectly content to sit and watch the mundane grasshopper jump from leaf to leaf. Sometimes, we are so busy trying to give our children the best of everything, that we forget that true wonder can be found in simplicity.
Do our dancers really need to dance on a stage that looks like it was prepared for Katy Perry at the MTV Music Awards? The simple joy of dancing is truly enough. We all want beautiful experiences and great adventures for our children – and we should revel in all that life can provide them. But every now and again, let’s just sit next to them, take a deep breath, and watch the grasshopper.