I attended Ingrid’s 4th & 5th grade Valentine's Dance last night at Larry G. Smith Elementary.
She had been talking about this for weeks and wanted to know if she could go. Of course she could, I said. And she was so excited.
But then I asked if parents were going and if I could go, too. She said she wasn’t sure about that and would have to get back to me. I asked if she would be embarrassed if I went with her and she sort of shyly grinned and I so I promised I wouldn’t get out on the dance floor in front of all of her friends and do the Glide, or the Fist Pump, or the Shuffle, or that thing kids today call cwalking.
She giggled and said, “Oh Poppy.”
Anyway, I bought our tickets and decided to go as a volunteer. I kept telling her she needed to pick out an outfit for the dance but she insisted that she was just going to wear her skinny jeans and “a cute top.” Hmmm, I thought. Okay. So we went to the mall and picked out a cute top which she didn’t end up wearing anyway. But so are the endless wardrobe changes a girl these days has to make at the last minute.
I of course was way over dressed and looked like the dad who had just come from the president’s ball. It had been a while since I was at a grade school dance.
So I worked the concessions table selling chips and candy bars while Ingrid had fun with her friends running back and forth from the dance floor to the chairs lined across the walls where the girls all sat and whispered silliness and laughed out loud while sipping on their sodas.
There is something wonderful and refreshing about children having fun. I really didn’t see a single wall flower. All of them were interacting, dancing, talking to one another, and just having the best time possible. Every now and then a boy would slide across the dance floor in what I thought was some lame attempt to get attention. The girls totally ignored that and went right on dancing with each other. The guys doing the sliding thing didn’t care they were being ignored and I realized they weren’t trying to get anyone’s attention at all. They just liked sliding on the floor. And so goes the strange antics of boys.
I watched Ingrid hug her girlfriends and giggle with them. She would huddle with three or four on the dance floor and they were all so cute as they moved to the music waving their arms and shaking their heads and gracefully stepping into the beat of the songs.
There was a small contingent of four or five girls I noticed off to the side. They were slim and pretty and dressed in their fashionable skinny jeans and of course cute tops and had a little more sophisticated look about them. I was afraid they might be a gang of those cruel girls that end up at all dances who try to show off and intimidate the innocents. But, they were fine. Just cute and a bit classy for their age but they danced right along with the other kids and never once acted too cool for the crowd.
I kept busy selling and making change. Along with all the snack food they were also selling small boxes of chocolates for $2.50. With that came a pretty little card with a To: and From: on it. One little guy came up and picked out a pink box of chocolates. He paid for it and said it was for his teacher. So I wrote her name on the card and he signed his and he had me put it aside so it would be given to her Monday at school. I told him that was a really nice thing to do because teachers are pretty special. He beamed for a second and then ran back to the dance floor. Every boy alive has at some point fallen in love with his teacher.
We all worry today about our children and the young in our society. It’s always been tough growing up but it does seem that kids today have so many challenges to their innocence, so many more opportunities to grow up too fast and so miss all of the necessary fun and healthy development of childhood.
I was relieved to see Ingrid and her 4th and 5th grade friends being themselves, not trying to act like teenagers just yet, still harmlessly behaving and delighting in all of the natural silliness and good feelings that should spontaneously happen with children their age.
It made me believe that their parents are doing a good job, that those kids are being nurtured and loved by adults who cherish them in every way.
Eventually, before the danced ended, Ingrid came up and said it was time to go. She was tired and her legs hurt. I thought that was so funny and cute. I helped her into her coat and hoped that all her future dances will end so effortlessly honest and so sweetly.
On the way to the parking lot we raced to the car in the cold wind. I stopped and made an attempt at the Shuffle. Ingrid giggled and joined in. The stars looked down on us and shined.
© 2012 Timothy Moody