Penny dances on stage with other ballet dancers. Blue lights light up the stage backdrop.

Penny’s Dance Fest

Penny performed on stage for the first time in three years this past weekend. 

And, as I often do in these moments, I held my breath in the audience. I worry that something will go wrong for her, that she might fall or forget part of her routine or freeze in front of the lights. I also worry that we somehow are supposed to represent all the possibilities for all the kids with disabilities out there and that we won’t live up to whatever expectations other people have for us. 

Penny doesn’t worry about those things. She just shows up for her class, week after week after week. She doesn’t carry a weight of expectations from other people. She does believe in her own ability to listen, to learn, to grow. And then she shows up for the performance with confidence and poise and grace. 

And I sit in the audience with a lump in my throat and a tingle around my eyes, and I cheer her on. 

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