The Lesson Britney Spears Taught My Son

Each night at the Smith homestead is dance night. After dinner and post dinner clean up we pull out the Britney Spears CD circa 2000 (a black market find during our trip to Mongolia many years ago) and dance wildly to songs like “oops I did it again“.
Beyond just pure fun, there is a method to this silly madness. Canaan, who is nearly 8 has always been ‘an old soul’. He looks forward to watching Lawrence Welk on PBS each Saturday night, proclaims that Frank Sinatra is by far the best singer and thinks elevator music is the best jazz around.
With this sweet sentimental, old soul kind of ways Canaan also can tend to be a bit uptight. He is an absolute rule follower, morally conscious kid. We have never worried about him lying to us or being sneaky because if he ever would do such things he would tell on himself before we ever had a chance to question him. Sometimes I have to almost pinch myself at how great he is (all my boys are.) Over the years we have worked hard to cultivate a spirit of thankfulness in him. Children, from what I have found, are generally pretty selfish, whiny and ungrateful…its just the nature of the beast. It takes work to cultivate in them a genuine appreciative and thankful heart, which is a work in progress~ as with all of us. He always takes time to thank me for making dinner (even if it isn’t his favorite meal). He will often come up and give me a hug or a kiss and say “thank you for being such a great mommy.” I am so blessed.
In recent months we have taken small steps to teach Canaan some life lessons in a new area he has begun struggling with. That area of self consciousness. He is a people pleaser and is devastated when he displeases anyone. He is also very fearful of looking dumb, doing something embarrassing or saying something wrong. He takes life very seriously, which for goof balls like Mike and I is a foreign concept.
It is vital to grow and nurture our children as individuals. Ezra, our middle son, has no problem bustin’ a move on the dance floor or wearing the funkiest outfit he can find. Ezra’s guidance these days are more in the area of choosing his attitude (he can tend to be a bit mopey). All of this instruction is, of course, given in small amounts with large doses of encouragement and praise for the areas they are excelling in and the great choices they do make.
So how does Britney tie into all of this, you may ask? Well in an attempt to loosen our sweet son up a bit we began a nightly dance party. The first night was disastrous. He was on the verge of tears as we encouraged him to throw caution to the wind and dance. He kept saying things like “I’m going to look dumb” and “I can’t do this”. It was disheartening as a parent to see him struggle with something as simple as dancing around the room with his family. After 3 songs we called it a night with the announcement that there would indeed be dance night the next night. The following night, after dinner, I casually walked over to the CD player and put the old faithful Britney Spears CD in. I cranked it up and began doing some funky…I mean really cool dance moves. To my surprise Canaan quickly joined me. It was evident he was still apprehensive about the idea of dancing freely, but he joined in with a big smile. By the end he excitedly asked if we’d be having a dance party again the next night.
It is such a random and albeit silly way of drawing him out of his serious, self conscious shell but you know what? Its working. Since we started our family dance parties we can tell there is a big shift in his outlook on the day. He laughs more (he used to say he liked things more serious than silly), he tells more corny jokes, he is just overall much more relaxed and comfortable in his own skin. Don’t worry, we have no plans of taking the ‘old soul’ out of Canaan…just mixing a bit of his 80 year old ways with the spunk of youth.
And that’s what Britney Spears taught my kid.

**Mike is oh-so concerned that people all around the world will think we are endorsing Britney Spears. We wants me to make it clear that he likes Snow Patrol, Wilco, Coldplay and Van Morrison. Britney is only around for my jogs on the treadmill. Just wanted to clear that up for my dear husbands music reputation.