i hope you dance. i said something like that friday night....again and again and again! sometimes we need little reminders in life. when we were 13, we needed to be encouraged and so do our kids.
friday night's dance , called a social rather than a formal, was for the kids in t.j.'s class who will be "stepping forth" this week. the dance is a lovely tradition that has been enjoyed for years....it used to be "the formal". don't think that's because of "these kids today" or because of the dressing down of america. the name has been changed to protect the innocent.....the parents!
the school "formal" has had the name changed because, as with many of the events in our kids' lives, the parents have allowed it or created it. the head of t.j.'s school and i have similar back rounds with similar family life, schools and friends in common. he as changed the name to stop the insanity.
insanity comes in many forms. it seems to be prevalent with families of means. it has gone on in different degrees for generations. maybe it began with adam and eve...eve wanting a leaf from a prettier tree...perhaps the leaves were changing and she preferred the pink-ish tone that looked more flattering against her skin. a fashion statement that would lure adam to the apple. big time flirtation by accessorizing.
the name has been changed because it had gotten out of control....not the dance but the attire of the 13 year old girls who attended the dance. as with any 8th grade, the girls seem to find the social aspect way more thrilling than the clueless, unaware and unsuspecting boys. boys wear clothing as a necessity. girls wear clothing as an accessory and shopping is a girl bonding thing for all ages. the girls seem to drive the hype of the dance. why? i think it may be due to the dress.
when women of any age are involved, it always comes down to "what will i wear?" it may have been called a "formal" for years, but it seems in the last few years that "formal" has grown to mean "pricey, over the top and unnecessarily expensive!"
the gentleman responsible for finally reeling things in is to be commended! i should say that he tried. it is now officially called the "social"...that's a start. he made an announcement that no one should go out and buy new and expensive dresses....just wear something nice.
is it the girls? is it the moms? i don't get it. so many moms seem to up the ante'. i remember grace's first ballet recital. she was 3. parents and grandparents, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles arrived with armloads of flowers for the prima donnas who were just barely out of diapers. it was a circus!
silly new parents that we were, biff, t.j. and i were there to clap. afterwards, we had no flowers or party. our baby dancer had a nap planned after her big occasion. i do believe biff's parents came the day before to watch the practice.
i will also admit that there have been moments....just moments.....when i have said to myself, " i should have....." nope. i stopped myself before my own insanity kicked in. weren't we working hard to allow our kids the plain old fashioned childhood that we so loved.
the simple walks holding my daddy's hand, dancing on my daddy's feet, sitting by the fireplace learning to play gin rummy, raking leaves with dad, running into the ocean, driving in the car....so happy to have him to myself....making him laugh, watching his favorite t.v. shows
listen to me...as though i never fell for any of it. sure i did. not usually by decorating my grace like a christmas tree or jean benne' ramsay. that was what the kids looked like for the ballet recital photo day....yes, they were expected to leave school early to get the photos taken. wierd huh? nope. we didn't go til school was out. shocking! some moms brought make up for there "little girls"....6 years old. babies. huh?
when my niece was 7, she made her first communion. a little girl rolled up in a stretch limo! with all of the angelic faces on the altar, i was awestruck! UNTIL my eyes fell upon the little limo girl...her face was blushing....really blushing. that little girl looked like a halloween trick or treater, despite her very glamorous designer dress...she had blush on her cheeks and eye shadow and lip gloss. huh? 7 years old with make up? if our truly sweet and innocent babies need
makeup and designer dresses and limos,then won't their lives go quickly down hill from age 7? what will it mean to them when their first boyfriend takes her to a movie in her parents jeep? how will baby face cope?
the other night was a sweet night. biff and i were at the "social"....much to t.j.'s objections. we tried to steer clear of our adorable boy dressed up like our ken doll....don't let him hear me say that or he'll strip down to his boxers so fast, our heads will spin! he likes nice clothes (that runs way back in our family genes, not jeans) t.j. appreciates nice clothes, he just doesn't care about shopping for them. grace told t.j. what the guys wore to the dance last year...she told him what would look good. he was o.k. with that. funny, but he trusts her with those choices. who could have been happier as we drove off to j.crew and brooks brothers! he had grown since last spring. that grace, she knows her stuff. her brother went off to the dance looking great and comfortable too.
one girl had been at the hair salon all day having her "up doo" styled! last year, i took grace and her friends to the nail salon for manicures. they were delighted! what message do we give our darling daughters if we feel that they need makeup at age 7? how do we allow some of these little girls, only 13, to wear dresses way too short and revealing? is this what mom's do to daughters while some dads live through their sons baseball/lacrosse/footballdreamed of his baseball success taking to the big league!while most of these lovely little ladies looked so tastefully dressed, there were some who were not so tastefully dressed. we worried that some dresses would fall down with nothing to hole them up while others had no fabric and needed more keep them covered! isn't that always the way!
most of the girls were ready to dance and many of the boys were hoping to horse around. the music was blasting and there were those awkward moments....the girls hoping to dance...with that special boy...or avoid that not so special boy.... some girls were standing uncomfortably while their more comfortable friends danced.
as i strolled through the clumps of girls and circles of boys, i realized that SOMEONE had to start dancing first. they needed a jump start!
i stopped one group of girls who we knew well. i told them that they needed to get all of the girls to dance....tell some friends. i did the same with another clique of girls...tell some friends or other girls from class....girls needed to "get this party started" as the song says. i told each group that if they wanted to have a fun dance, they were responsible for making it fun. if they got all of the girls to dance, the boys would have no choice!
the girls began dancing...the floor looked like it was moving. some boys joined in. one boy was holding a beach ball as i approached....i told him that the head of his school took the beach ball away from someone! i continued to think fast....the head of the school said that the beach ball was off limits. the only way for the beach ball to go into play was if they tossed it up in the air to the others....ONLY WHILE THEY WERE DANCING!
it worked. they danced. i hope you dance...today!