Dancing Tweensby Meredith O'Brien
They don’t want to go to the dance.
Why? I’m not entirely sure but I must say I’m not displeased by this development.
“So, you guys want to go to the dance on Friday night?” I asked them the other day.
“How do you know about that?” my 13-year-old daughter asked, raising her eyebrows suspiciously as she threw a glance over at her twin brother, wondering if I had indeed planted a spy in their middle school as I’m always joking I will do.
“I have my ways,” I said, thinking of the e-mail from the parents’ group chairwoman asking for chaperones to sell food at the dance. Parents would not, I repeat, NOT, be allowed to enter the dancing area for fear that their children would die of embarrassment upon having to shake their groove things in front of their mother or father.
Both kids informed me, without mincing words, that they had absolutely zero interest in attending the upcoming dance for the seventh and eighth graders.
That certainly wasn’t what I was like when I was in seventh grade, and a tad boy crazy. I always seemed to be nurturing a crush on one boy or another during junior high, however the fact that I’d hit puberty and was more than a head taller than all the boys - and not in total control of my rapidly-growing gangly limbs - meant that I wasn’t getting asked to dance all that often. It was usually me doing the asking. But despite all the awkwardness, I really enjoyed going to the dances, no matter how silly I may have seemed, uncomfortably shuffling around the dance floor looking like everybody’s big sister.
And while my daughter is taller than many of the boys in her grade, she not the tallest and is way more graceful than I was. She also has no romantic interest in anyone at this point in her life (something for which my husband routinely heaves a huge sigh of relief). For example, when the last installment of the Twilight film series came out last year and I warned her just as violent scenes were about to occur (I’d screened the movie beforehand), she was more grossed out by all the kissing between Edward and Bella than by the lethal fights between werewolves and vampires.
She will occasionally ask me why is it that other girls seem really interested in boys, why their voices seem to jump an octave when they flirt and what’s up with the short-shorts of which the girls who flirt seem so fond. I try to explain to her that people become interested in flirting, dancing and dating at all different ages, and there’s no one right age for anybody. “You’re only a kid for a tiny fraction of your life,” I tell her. “You’ve got your whole life to be a grown-up. You don’t need to rush.” Even though some 30 years ago, I was one of those girls who liked boys, who wrote notes and wanted to attend dances, I can definitely see the merits of my strong, confident, sporty gal’s point of view. She’s just not ready, and that’s more than okay with me.
As for her twin brother, he has even less interest in going to a dance than his sister. He doesn’t care to waste any time thinking about or discussing why some boys may or may not be angling to spend time with, text or call girls. When I ask periodically him if he’s interested in anybody, he shoots me an outraged look as his face reddens and he shouts, “Mom!” completely mortified as though I’d asked him if he’d relieved himself in the middle of the school cafeteria.
Believe me, I’m in no hurry to have them dive into that pool of boys, girls, dating, broken hearts, miscommunication and sex (even though we’ve talked, ad nauseum, about sex after they picked up a significant quantity of dirty words and sexual references from crude eighth grade idiots who ride the school bus with them). But part of me still wonders if they’re missing out on something by skipping the dance. I guess I just have to remind myself, this is their adolescence, not mine.