This is my dance space

This is my dance space. This is your dance space. I don’t go into yours, you don’t go into mine

It’s one of my favourite lines from the movie Dirty Dancing. Johnny uses it when he is trying to teach Baby to dance, and she keeps “invading” his personal space. It is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, as the two are already lovers, and he seems to be enjoying the fact that Baby can’t respect his dance space. It’s a cute scene and the expression has stuck with me. I have used it a lot, both in seriousness and in jest, when people get a little bit to close to my dance space. Since moving to India, I feel that I now need to come up with a tactful and appropriate variation for the lils.

The first few weeks that we lived here were pretty much all business. We arrived, moved, set up house, and started school and work. We didn’t pay much attention to people around us, and we didn’t do much exploring. As we have become more settled that has changed, and we are starting to go out more and to play in our community. One of our very first outings was on Diwali, and we were somewhat mobbed by a large group of people at one point. They were very happy and celebratory, and just wanted to take pictures, but also touch the lils faces and hair, and hug and kiss them. We were all taken aback, but mostly OK with this. Then it started happening a little bit more on a smaller scale. We were walking at the Nandi Hills, and Goose was scooped up for a picture. We were at the Zoo, and school children kept coming up to Woo and squeezing his cheeks. Every time we walk anywhere, I get asked to stop and pose with the lils, or have them pose with random strangers. It even happens when we are riding our bikes in our neighbourhood.

Last weekend we were at the zoo again for Goose’s birthday. We were having a great day, and the lils were happily roaming the paths from animal to animal. At one point Goose ran from me to Willy and Woo, a distance of about 100m. When she was about halfway there, she went passed a group of women, one of whom grabbed her arm. Goose tried to keep running, but the woman would not let go. I ran up, yelling at her to please let go and to be gentle. When I got to Goose, she was shaken and a little hurt. I picked her up, told the woman that she shouldn’t do that and caught up to the boys. I was a little shaken myself.

That event strikes me as the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. Since that time, I have noticed that both lils are newly painfully shy with strangers. Neither will speak to anyone they don’t know and Goose has taken to wearing a hat a lot more in public. It is a hat that she can hid under. They grab our legs and turn away when people talk to them now. Drop-off at school became much more of a struggle, in part because the teachers wait at the gate to get the children safely in the school grounds and off the busy road. This is well meaning, but to the lils, it is just another large group of people they barely know reaching out for them.

Some of these we can work on with the lils. We spoke to the school, came up with a solution that works for both of us, and have no more tears at drop off. We have spent some time letting the lils know that in public, people do this because they are curious, but that that doesn’t mean that the lils have to engage them. I ask that Woo and Goose remain polite, and simply say “no thank you” if they are bothered, or that they tell us so that we can say it. We also tell the people that they have to ask the lils, and if they don’t reply or say no, it has to be respected. The problem is that it isn’t respected. It’s hard enough to get them to pose for MY camera, so I am not going to force the lils to pose for a stranger’s picture. They should just be able to enjoy their India experience without worrying about being pinched, prodded, grabbed, and hugged and kissed. I just have to come up with a catchy way to tell people.

Category: India, life, Lils | 2 comments

  • AmyL says:

    You certainly have more patience and are more accepting than I would be! It shows your kind heart, you are just right sort of person to be on this adventure. If you need help getting in touch with your inner Mama Bear, let me know. I have a portfolio of stern looks, hand gestures and the occasional growl that works quite well in dealing with irritating strangers. You will no doubt find a solution that works best. :)

  • trace says:

    I have a saying for you… I just don’t think that you’ll want the lils to use it… I’m sure that its known worldwide too. It’s starts with an F and ends wit an OFF.

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