Sisterhood Blog

Watching My Daughter Fly

By Elana Sztokman

  • Print
  • Share Share

I have a knack for embarrassing my children.

Like when I sing along while they listen to “Funkytown” with their friends (is it my fault 80’s music is the new retro fad?) Or when I start doing the hip-hop line-dance to Mary J. Blige’s “Just Fine” in the middle of the living room. “Ima, please stop,” is what I usually get in response. (Just for the record, my oldest daughter secretly loved the dance and had me show it to her, but she’ll never admit that to her friends.)

So I speak, sing, and dance to my heart’s delight, but invariably endure that unmistakable look of desperately seeking out the nearest rock to crawl under. Ah, motherhood.

One day they will hopefully all grow up and find me charming and endearing. I just hope I’m still lucid when that day comes.

Recently, though, the embarrassment reached new heights when I did something so mortifying that my beautiful 12-year-old daughter actually went running to the other side of the park. No, I did not regale her friends with stories of her toddlerhood or even break into my favorite rendition of “The Pirates of Penzance” “Major General Song” (which would have likely sent many mothers running as well). What did I do that was so degrading? I shrieked.

I couldn’t help myself; it just happened. Like a primordial expression of wonderment upon seeing fire for the first time, I uttered this shout of enormous glee, a loud, powerful pronouncement emerging from somewhere in my gut, a language-less expression that there is something utterly phenomenal and extraordinary in this world. I imagine many other parents would have done the same in my situation. After all, I had just watched my daughter do a flik-flak.

A flik-flak is Hebrew for a “back handspring.” It doesn’t quite have the same ring to it in English. Flik-flak is much more expressive, almost a visceral description. It’s the sound of a body flipping over itself backward and forward over and over in a line, like a slinky: flik- flak-flik-flak-flik-flak.

Oh, sure, the girls in the Olympics make it look easy. But let me tell you, to be two feet away from this lovely little creature — the same creature, mind you, who once lived inside my body, who I once held because she could not yet walk or talk never mind flip in the air — this little body practically flying in the air, well, it was just beyond anything I have ever experienced. The shriek just came.

I think it emerged from that place in my soul that wishes that I, too, could fly through the air. Of course, I can’t. I’m terribly unathletic and always have been. In my mind, however, I easily imagine myself flipping and twirling, flick-flacking my way through the heavens. And then I invariably open my eyes.

But my daughter, my God, she actually did it! The vision just swept me away in its majesty.

So my shriek may have startled her – I suppose it startled me too. But I think it reflected something deep in my sense of what it means to be a woman. It’s about the passion and desire to fly, to feel the wind rushing around my body, to be free.

Some of us may have grown up with restrictions as girls, emergent women confined by strictures and conventions not unlike those discovered by Debra Nussbaum Cohen at a recent wedding.

We were educated to be women – which means, for some of us, we were educated to serve. But our daughters … our daughters … They may yet fly.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Girlhood, Gymnastics

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.


Comments
Keren Copperman Mon. Nov 9, 2009

Hi Elana,

Beautiful post. You're wrong about Avigayil though. She actually taught me the entire dance to the Mary J. Blije song! Or at least she tried.

Keren

BTW -- a flick-flack is a back-handspring in English. You're right though, it does sound better in Hebrew.

Jen Tue. Nov 10, 2009

Apparently a "flic-flac" is something in ballet too. I'm not entirely sure how to do it correctly, but I found this description at dance.net: As far as the actual step goes, its basically a petite battment to the back (which brushes the floor) as you do a 1/2 pivot on the ball of your foot, and then another petite battment to the front (which brushes the floor too) and you come around to the front and rise with the working leg extended to the side and balance.




Find us on Facebook!
  • “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh oh, I’m not Jewish,’ because when you say that, you sound like someone trying to get into a 1950s country club, “and I love the idea of being Jewish." Are you a fan of Seth Meyers?
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.