My daughter’s first middle school dance

By Mir Kamin for BlogHer

It’s a rite of passage I never even thought about, before, but now it’s nearly upon us: My daughter’s first dance is coming up.

I have a vague memory of dances in middle school. They involved a lot of standing around, pretending to be having fun (at least for me). Girls and boys didn’t go together — not unless they were “going together” beforehand, which largely meant they declared themselves to be a couple — but you would go with a couple of friends and stand around and drink punch and hope that maybe during a slow song a boy would ask you to dance. I don’t remember anyone ever asking me to dance, though. I remember the agony of trying to wear something nice without looking like I was trying to wear something nice. I remember skipping a dance because it seemed like so much effort for a whole lot of angst.

In our school district, there are dances at the middle school, but not for 6th graders. So last year we were blessedly dance-free.

This year a brightly-colored sheet of paper came home declaring that the 7th and 8th graders should get ready for the first dance of the year. And I’ll confess, it struck a tiny bit of fear in my heart, so I responded by turning into Annoying Mom.

“A DANCE! That’s SO EXCITING! You must be excited. MAYBE I’LL CHAPERONE!” My poor daughter. Her eyes rolled so far back in her head, I feared they might stick.

“You can chaperone if you want to,” she said. “Because there’s no way I’m going.”

“What? Why not??” She shook her head at my stupidity. So I threw my arms around her and assured her that it would be FUN!

“Okay, Mom? I don’t know if you’ve noticed that my friends and I are not really … dance people,” she said.

“What are ‘dance people?'” I countered, though of course I knew exactly what she was trying to tell me.

“You know,” she said. “All of the popular kids will go. All the kids who are actually dating. Me and my friends, we’re geeks. We do math. We don’t date yet, and we don’t go to dances.”

I thought about this for a minute. It’s tricky waters, once kids get to be this age. Everything is a minefield. Any advice I give is most likely going to be discarded, but on the off-chance that she actually listens, I’d better make it good, lest it lead to catastrophe with me as the agent of her unhappiness. I rubbed her arm while I thought, then nodded.

“Well,” I said, “I think you should think about going. It might be fun.” She eyed me, wary. “Round up a bunch of girlfriends, just go as a group,” I continued. “Don’t go expecting to dance the night away, or anything, but go to see what it’s all about, hang out together, watch and see who’s dating who, and just … have fun. What do you have to lose?”

She considered it, but looked skeptical.

“You’ve got a few weeks to decide,” I said. “Why not talk to your friends and see if any of them are up for it?” She shrugged. I let it go.

Two weeks later, out of the blue, she gave me the rundown: This friend is going to be out of town, and that one doesn’t want to go. But this other one said she’ll go, and another is thinking about it. So she guesses maybe they’ll just go check it out, no biggie. I kept my face casual and told her that sounded good. I remember thinking that my baby is really growing up, spreading her wings, stepping outside of her comfort zone in little ways. Soon she’ll be off to high school, then college. Before I know it, whether or not to go to dance will be the least of her problems, and I’ll be lucky if she talks to me about it at all.

Then my husband volunteered to chaperone, and the indignant whining began. I suspect we have more still-a-kid time left than I may have originally feared.

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BlogHer Contributing Editor Mir can often be heard humming “Sunrise, Sunset.” She blogs near-daily about issues parental and otherwise at Woulda Coulda Shoulda, and posts all day long about the joys of mindful retail therapy atWant Not.

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