c: marked by tact and delicacy : urbane
3: merciful , compassionate
A's name means gracious. Given our own lack of dancing ability, J and I could not possibly have known when we named her that she would be a born dancer, whose body is graceful and who uses that gift of a graceful body to honor God through dance. I hope she will retain this gift throughout her life and that her life will also be marked by the other meanings of her name. I hope she will be kind, courteous, merciful and compassionate.
A turns 10 today. This time last year, it struck me that we were halfway through our time with her living in our home permanently. She's now a mere eight years from college, and if the last ten years are any indication, the next eight are likely to fly by. And who will A be by then? In many ways, she still has many of the traits we saw in her as a baby: she's quiet, learns quickly, is very observant, seems older than her age and loves books. But we've learned other things about A as she's grown that we didn't anticipate.
A was the one who knew she was a dancer. When she was 3, she started asking to take dance. I enrolled her in a six week program at a local YMCA and thought that would be the end of that. She seemed to enjoy it, but didn't rave about it. A few months after that ended, she started asking again to take dance. I resisted for a while, then decided a summer camp was a good way to test it out. If she still wanted to dance after 5 days of doing it everyday, then I would commit to finding an after-school class for her.
I'll admit I was hoping she would drop this idea, that dance would seem unappealing after a while. I didn't like the vibe at her summer camp. The parents and instructors weren't warm and it wasn't a place I felt welcome. I also worried (and worry) that dance and ballet can contribute to a negative body image. A did not care about any of that. As soon as the camp was over, she started asking to take more ballet.
I'm sure God led us to Rejoice because he knew I would pull A out of ballet at the slightest provocation. Instead of being a place where the parents sized up each other and mentally jockeyed their daughter for position, Rejoice discouraged parents from watching during class, making it easy for me to let A do it her way. At the recital that first year, not one child had on make-up. I'm not sure I can articulate how important this was to me. That we were there to watch our children dance, not paint them like dolls, was paramount to me embracing A's love of this art form.
I'm so grateful that my graceful, gracious daughter knew her own heart and pursued dance. I've prayed since she was young that she would know there is more to her than a quick mind. I think ballet gives her a balance in her life and encourages her to graciously embrace others' passions. J and I didn't believe in God when A was born, so it's a special blessing that God led us to give her a perfect name before we even knew him. I love you, my gracious daughter. Happy birthday.