|A Basement for Dancing|
Last night, for Monday Night Fitness Group, we have 15 children and their parents gather to dance and jump rope in my basement. The space isn’t fancy–it’s just big enough to let a group of children dance for one hour. As we finish up with jumping jacks and a game of “Little Sally Walker,” we pause for “Community Announcements.”
So many little hands go up in the air. I have an announcement! I have an announcement! We sit in a circle and share our most important news for the neighborhood to know. I begin with a challenge to walk to school–even in the snow–so we can celebrate our 100th mile with t-shirts and dancing. I have more weight to lose and more health to gain, and I need this neighborhood to help me.
Then the children go around the circle with their most important announcements:
One child has her first loose tooth. We cheer and clap. She’s growing!
The next child reports that there’s a new student at school. She says, “We have to talk to him and make him feel very welcome.” Another child pipes up that there’s another new student who only speaks Portuguese, so we have to pay attention and help that new person.
Then one boy announces that he “played outside the whole afternoon, ate dinner quickly, and rushed back outside to play.” We clap because it’s a fitness achievement for him, and our neighborhood is on a mission towards fitness. The next child claims she danced for one hour in her basement with her friend. Another fitness win.
Then, we hear of new badges earned in scouts. We cheer more.
And then, we are alerted to a neighborhood emergency. Earlier in the afternoon, some of the children discovered a tree that had a rock embedded in the trunk. They perform surgery and remove it. When they examine this tree, they find that too many acorns are taking root near it and within the hollow between two limbs. They proceed to clear away the acorns and water the tree. And then they observe that it’s all solid clay around the trunk; no water seeps in. So they grab shovels, till the soil, and mix in compost to save the tree. 2 hours they work. Emergency averted.
Our announcements show me what our neighborhood values: our growth, our community, our fitness, and our environment. We celebrate each other and press on toward our goals–together. We also value announcing our lives, living them out alongside one another. A loose tooth, a new student, a tree in danger–these things must be noted and marked in our annals. We chronicle lives lived in this little neighborhood. We hear you. We love you.
It takes a village, and every village needs a Heather. Thank you for shepherding our neighborhood!
My tendency is to NOT announce things…to keep the celebration and the pain to myself
But then I miss out on community and friends and the shared emotions.
Your basement dance fest-o-rama is such an excellent idea, and I love that your neighborhood is encouraging fitness and outdoor activity that way. This is the first time I am reading your blog – found it via the NYT Motherlode – and I like it! I am also totally impressed that you won the “This I believe” NPR essay contest. I thought and thought about what to write for that; but couldn't ever come up with anything original enough to qualify for a whole essay. Keep up all the good work!
My sister and I were just discussing how it takes a village to raise a child (for the good of the child or to their detriment). We each are responsible. I appreciate your link and it really inspires me to see how just one hour had such a good effect on everyone. You are doing a wonderful work.
That's so cool! A neighborhood emergency! Neighborhood Fitness! I wish we had something like that in our neighborhood!
This sounds so awesome. dancing with children is always so much fun. and sharing.
I LOVE this! I'm glad so many families are participating.
Thank you for taking on this challenge… You are an inspiration!
This is the first time I have read your blog, but I will be back for more updates on how y'all are doing.