Friday, May 16, 2008

Out of the Mouths of Babes

I had a really humbling experience this week.

Our two oldest daughters are in dance. I think it's really good for them, and I've made sure I'm always okay with how they're dancing, and so forth. We are homeschooling them so I feel that it's really important for them to have good social experiences. They love dancing, and this is a really good, structured environment where they can make friends, interact, express themselves, and build confidence and social skills.

But there are always those slightly iffy things with our standards, like modesty. In dance class, I have always had them in leotards with sleeves and modest necklines and backs. But once a year we have a recital, of course, and none of those outfits have sleeves. We struggled with it just a bit last year, but finally decided that it was "just a costume" and that the social benefits outweighed a few minutes of immodesty when they were modest all the rest of the time. I wouldn't ever let them wear a really trashy outfit, for sure, but I figured a little sleeveless leotard once a year wasn't going to ruin them. (To be honest, I was pretty timid about the thought of discussing it with their teacher. I figured we were kind of just in those waters, and it was my decision to be there.)

But of course we talk about modesty all the time. We teach the girls constantly about their bodies and how sacred and special they are, and what a gift they are from Heavenly Father. We always talk about Sunday dresses and other things and help them to understand what's modest and what's not. We've taught them that they'll be able to feel the Spirit guiding them if they are making right choices, like being modest.

As the recital this year approached, I started to feel a little bad again about the modesty issue with their costumes. I felt like I was teaching them a double standard. But once again I justified it to myself, saying that it was just a costume, just for one day, if it were a swim team swimming suit we wouldn't have this issue, etc.

But then my oldest daughter started to ask me questions about it. She asked me why her dance costume was not modest. She asked me if it was okay to wear. Then my younger daughter started to ask the same things. A few days ago we saw some dancing on TV, and of course the dresses were pretty immodest. My oldest daughter was pretty upset about it. She asked me about it that night, and time and time again the next day. She said she didn't like the immodest dresses, and didn't want to be immodest herself.

I actually caught myself saying, "It's okay if you're doing a special dance." I felt horrible. I began to really examine myself and my reasoning. I realized that I was just really feeling dumb about talking to the teacher about more modest options. All week my daughters kept asking me about why their costumes weren't modest. Last night, we had the dress rehearsal for the recital. My girls looked very pretty, but the second one looked around and said, "No one is modest. I'm not modest." Then she got pretty quiet for a while.

My conscience was not only pricked, but STABBED. Matt and I talked late into the night about it and realized that it didn't matter what anyone else thought. Our girls have been taught to cherish their bodies and to treat them with reverence. Our girls love Heavenly Father and even at their age they are so aware of the blessings of having the Spirit with them and of keeping the commandments. I felt like they were begging me to allow them to be modest. Though I know everyone feels differently on this issue, we decided that for our family there shouldn't be a double standard at all. We will be modest all the time.

So today we frantically called around to every dance shop in two states until we found one that carried long-sleeved flesh colored leotards. Matt brought them home from work and the girls were overjoyed! They put them on under their little outfits and I kid you not, beamed a mile wide and both said, "I'm modest!!!!"

When we arrived at the school and went into the dressing room and saw all of the other little cuties running around, my little three-year-old looked up at me and said, "Mom, I'm so happy I'm modest."

I have learned an incredible lesson from my little girls tonight. They were so beautiful at their recital. They beamed and glowed, and not just from the lights and sparkles. They were full of the joy of choosing for themselves to follow the Savior. I am so humbled by them and so proud of them. I pray that I will never catch myself teaching them something that conflicts with what they know to be right again.

Here is the "cuddly duck" dance:


Here is the "shining star":



Here is the tap dance:

3 comments:

kannie said...

Wow. (Is that an elbow in my conscience's side, too? ;-) What sweet girls - you've done a great job teaching them! (And I'm kind of amazed at the costumes they make for these precious young 'uns, honestly...)

How rewarding to see their beautiful smiles and confident performances! :-) Thanks for sharing a great, GREAT example of how we can be "just a little" more excellent in our lives! :-)

Nicole said...

wow ann-- those videos are adorable! i would love to meet your beautiful children. we DO have a lot to catch up on.

Ann said...

We do! I can't wait to hear about your life :)