Different lives

I was waiting for the bus tonight, coming back from a yoga class, because I’d left my apartment in a rush this morning and hadn’t worn enough clothes to keep me warm on the way home. There was a little girl also waiting for the bus, with her mom. The girl was missing four front teeth, top and bottom, and she was dancing. “Look, Mama,” she would say, “this is how I do my horse exercise!” She held her hands in front of her and pranced with her feet. “This is my bear exercise!” She acted prowly and emitted a very realistic (for a seven-year-old) growl. “Stop it!” her mother barked at her. “Sit down and be quiet!” “Mama,” the girl said (it wasn’t a protest, just a statement), “I have to practice!” She kicked her feet out one at a time, pointing her toes, and hopped and jumped until she slipped and had to put her hands on the ground. “Siddown!” her mom barked again. “I don’t want you getting all wet.” “Mama,” the girl replied, “that’s how ballerinas do it.”

At first I was appalled at the way the mother was treating her daughter. But as we were getting on the bus, I realized she might just be nervous. The girl was dancing around again, and her mom told her to stop, because “I have to beg the driver now to let you ride for free.” After they boarded the bus, Mama was all smiles, and considerably gentler with her daughter. She smiled at me, too. When the girl admired the Barnum and Bailey signs posted up in the bus, a sly light went off in Mama’s eyes and she got up to try to take down one of the signs for her girl. It wouldn’t come off, unfortunately. Later, she told her she hoped JD and Angel would have their car when they got there, so they could drive them back home. “We can just take the bus again,” her daughter replied. “Yeah,” said her mama, “but I don’t have any more money.”

I would not have thought they were poor, looking at them. But I think we tend to forget “poor” in this time and place doesn’t mean rags and dirt the way it does in fairytales and movies. I hope this girl gets dance training all her life. If she can remember, mentally and physically, everything she’s learned in her dance class (and where is this dance class anyway?) and can show her mom, she’s got serious potential, methinks.

[This post was imported on 4/10/14 from my old blog at satsumabug.livejournal.com.]

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