The School Dance – Rite of Passage, Hormones & a Mom
The school dance. It’s a rite of passage. It’s hormones about to explode. It’s a night of music that ages the chaperones. It’s outfits of self expression. It was a surreal experience as a former tween myself.
2 Siblings: 1. Please Chaperone. 2. Please Stay Home.
My one child begged me to chaperone. While his sibling practically insisted that I leave the same zip code where the dance was being held, at their school.
Days leading up to the dance were draining on the home front, “What if there is drama?” or “I am not sure which friends to hang out with.” And, more. My heartstrings were torn. All of the horrible voices in a tween’s head were being vocalized. While I was grateful for open lines of communication, I became more sad with each conversation prior to the dance. I recalled how I didn’t like school dances when I was in Middle School.
The day of the dance, I received a communication from my pro-chaperone child, “Best day ever, please don’t come to the dance!” WHAT BUDDY? I bailed on an older sibling’s track meet, first place in the mile race, wearing indoor soccer shoes. And, I said no to a dinner date. I SIGNED ONTO THE DANCE TO PROVIDE COMFORT & SUPPORT! While my pro-chaperone child threw me a plot twist and requested that I stay away, his anti-chaperone sibling was thrilled. Fortunately, for the kid who rescinded his request for my presence, I developed Vertigo this week, and I couldn’t put up a strong fight.
For the past two years, I have attended this dance with the pro-chaperone and anti-chaperone’s older siblings. This was our pro-chaperone kid’s first time at this rodeo. My friends appreciate when I attend dances because I text reports and photos of their kids who have banished them from the dance. It’s an unofficial community service I provide for the Village. Though, perhaps my friends are smarter and let their kids win the chaperoning battle, and maybe those parents are all at happy hour, without me.
Time for the Dance & Karma Was My Date
It was officially time to open the dance floor (the decorated multi-purpose room). When I pulled up to the schoolyard, the tide of tween concerns washed away. I felt the vibe change. My pro-chaperone dancer had the most relaxed smile. Kids were running up and squealing his name. It was like a celebrity got out of my car. My gut knew, that we were at a different place than we were when I signed the permission slip for the event. Anxiety and fear turned into comfort and joy. We entered a place of being relaxed and content. I wasn’t sure what to do, should I linger around or leave? Most people in my shoes would have driven away to the local bar.
Nonetheless, I had a prime parking space in front of the school, so I walked in to say hello to the PTA parents who made the dance possible, and snagged a photo with my kids. And, out of the blue, I was handed a cash box and asked to collect money for candy and soda sales. I LOATHE candy and soda access for kids. Yup, I am THAT Mom who brings in sliced oranges when signed up for team snack. My kids hate when I am the snack parent. Yet, I understand candy and soda concessions are big money makers for the school. Karma got me, I wasn’t a signed up to volunteer and I shimmied my way into the dance for a photo. So, there I was with a bunch of sweaty hormonal tweens armed with twenty dollar bills from their generous parents eager to purchase dollar candy bars and cans of soda. The 8 foot banquet table filled with candy was sold in lightning bolt speeds, and I had to keep counting out $19 in change for many transactions. Then the party goers would come back with their dollar bills and more sugary inventory moved out. While I was being a good steward of the cash box and candy, I was trying to find my kids from my assigned station, especially the one who initially invited me to attend the dance. As a mom, I sensed that I was initially needed, and now I was not needed at all. Many would call that a victory. I call that Mom growing pains.
My kids and their friends checked in with me several times throughout out the dance, even though they stopped being candy and soda consumers early into the dance. At least I wasn’t being used for my own cash and inventory on hand. From afar, I saw my kid who was anxious about this social evening find joy, acceptance and kind kids. From our experience, this was the perfect first Middle School Dance.
Sweaty Hormonal Tweens Are Our Future
I looked around the room and realized that one day, these students will be our lawyers, our doctors, our teachers, our researchers, our politicians and more. I pondered when the switch flips between tween insecurities into a more established person participating as a contributing member of society. These experiences are all about the rite of passage throughout life and time. These kids will be okay and we will be okay, too.
While Karma had me selling concessions, and my head was spinning to both bad music and Vertigo, I witnessed happiness. There is nothing more gratifying in the parenting world as seeing your kids find their way. Communication, being present, quietly worrying, and a little faith is all part of the journey, it’s the parental rite of passage.