If you’ve ever watched a three year-old dance, you will quickly realize that rhythm is innate.

Is it the way the earth turns below us, the pull of the tides, the swish and wash of our mothers’ womb that makes our bodies able to move in time to the music?

And what is it about growing up that makes us lose this innate ability?

If you’ve ever seen a thirty year-old twitch on the dance floor, you realize that some of us indeed do.

When we knew we would spend our lives together and started forming dreams of family, my husband and I imagined bringing our barefoot babies to outdoor concerts where we could watch them twirl and bounce them on our knees and hips.  When the time came, we were either too tired or it was the children’s bedtime or it was simply too much work to pack an army of little people and all their accoutrements for the park.

Three kids and several years later, we actually achieved some of that dream last night.

A local tribute band to Bob Marley and The Wailers was playing on the beach a town over from where we live.  A beach concert with a picnic supper would probably be enough to lure my husband and the music of one of my favorite musicians – albeit covers – was more than enough for me.  The kids were impressed with the novelty of sitting on the beach listening to live music, aided by the fact that they got to peer through their father’s binoculars to see the action on stage.  My eight year-old made me burn with pride, when just by the opening chords of a song, she said, “Mom, isn’t this one on your CD?”  She has a great ear for music.  She skipped through the waves crashing on the shore as the music played, her sisters quickly following her lead and soaking the one pair of clothes they each had.

photo courtesy of Tunes on the Dunes

photo courtesy of Tunes on the Dunes

Just as the riveting bass line of “Could You Be Loved” surged through the speakers, not one, but two daughters expressed the urgent need to use the facilities.  I heard what turned out to be the last song of the concert through the bathroom walls.  I hadn’t exactly envisioned this in my dreams of family concerts.  But it was a nice night with a good vibe and the girls were having fun by the water, so we decided to hang out and let the crowds disperse.  Many others decided to do the same and the band apparently decided to do another set.  I was psyched.  ‘Redemption’ from my bathroom run!

But my youngest was soaked and sandy, my husband was getting cranky at running interference with the girls, and the tide was coming in.  In resolute denial that I wasn’t watching a show in my peasant blouse cuddled with my fiancé on our Guatemalan blanket, I turned away from the shore in my mom capris, huddled with my toddler on our picnic blanket – determined to enjoy the show.

My husband finally sat down.  My older two finally buried themselves in the sand at my feet.  And I got to rock steady to the beat.  I was rewarded by deep tracks only on my Bob vinyl.  By the time the finale came, I rocked and bounced my youngest in my arms.  We had our own extended “Soul Shakedown Party” as the sun faded.  She laughed and anticipated my moves, bobbing her head one way as I bobbed mine the other.

Time seemed to stop.  No, suspend.  As the band played an extended version of that great song, the minutes spooled out with the sound, a treasured pocket of time where my daughter and I moved to the same driving rhythm.  In synch.  In tune.

I saw a mother a few blankets over rocking and bopping with her infant and I flashed back to the times I’d worn tracks in our living room rug doing the same thing.  It occurred to me that rhythm may be innate, but we help transfer it to our children.  Or make the tendency stick.  And they in turn remind us of our primal instincts.  The marrow of  our being, what we came into this world knowing and needing to do.

Moving, grooving, and enjoying the rhythm of life.

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