It’s a long story and far from ideal, but our children (grades K and 2) attend different elementary schools. Hopefully it’s a short term scenario, but for the most part it’s going okay. That is, until today. Both schools were hosting dances tonight: a square dance at Maggie’s school, and a pre-prepubescent Valentine’s dance complete with a DJ at Sam’s. What to do?
The kids had it all worked out: Mommy and Maggie would go to the square dance, and Daddy and Sam would head to the rockin’ jam fest. I flashed back to junior high PE class, which is probably the last time I have even thought about a square dance, let alone participated in one, and quickly realized I was drawing the short end of the cowboy hat in this deal. Luckily the kids were agreeable to our compromise: we’d stick together as a family tonight, spending one hour at each child’s event.
The square dance was in a multipurpose room, with hard tile flooring and bright fluorescent lights beaming down on the joyous eyes of the professional caller. He had a passion for teaching us all to do-si-do and circle to the left! then circle to the right! There was a real live violinist, a bass player, and a guitarist. I’ve gotta admit… the kids loved it! They giggled and shimmied, picked up the moves quickly, and were actually pretty darn adorable.
That’s not saying they protested when we announced the hour was up, and it was time to waltz (or shall I say shimmy?) off to event number two.
The crowd was much larger at the Valentine’s Dance. Parking was at a premium, there was a cover charge of $5 per family (it was a fundraiser, after all) and there were ecstatic children scampering around every corner of the school. The library was holding a book fair, the PTA was all over the gym selling cookies and Valentine Grams, and the lunch room was the place to be with the DJ and dancing.
We first entered the gym, where the PE teacher was frantically mopping the floor because none of the guests were considerate enough to wear shoes with “non marking soles.” Oops.
The gender gap was quickly and obviously apparent. The girls – regardless of age – were all wearing miniature prom dresses. They were dressed to the sixes (their highest grade), some already wearing makeup, and fluttering about in giggling little packs. There was even a professional photographer onsite who had no shortage of customers thanks to these little princesses.
I quickly glanced to my son, who was wearing his snowboots, a plain white t-shirt, and a ghostly mustache of his spaghetti dinner. But honestly, he didn’t stand out as any sort of anomaly when I looked at the other the boys. Phew.
We proceeded to the multipurpose room, where our non-marking soles were more welcome, and entered a dark world of glow bracelets, strobe lights, and exorbitantly loud teeny bop music. Culture shock in South Anchorage: who knew it was possible?!
I was secretly giddy to come to this little shindig. Primary school-aged children trying to boogie should be entertaining, right? My first dance was in junior high, and by then we were all saddled with the crutch of self-consciousness. But our kids are still pretty uninhibited, and I was dying to see them bust a move. At first they were quite reserved, with Maggie clinging to us and Sam scanning the crowd for some buddies. He quickly spotted one and took off running… not dancing, but running… as apparently it’s extra fun to play tag as you zig zag amongst people who are trying to do the Electric Slide. Maggie was a little overwhelmed by the noise, but after a few dances with her dad she was in full-on party mode and begging for a spot on the stage. (We are in for it with that girl…)
Fast forward an entire 10 minutes. That’s how long it took for Sam to start begging to go to the book fair instead. My little librarian heart just glowed, but I think Clark was a bit crushed. Not surprised, just crushed. I didn’t know Clark in his younger days, but anyone who did will vouch that he would have been the one leading the locomotion before ditching the DJ for the book fair. We told Sam to go dance some more, because the book fair would be open all week. But the kid wouldn’t give up – he was determined to browse the books! So off we went to the library, where a Scholastic Mecca awaited, and let each of the kids pick out a title.
And then… back to the dance! I sat on a sideline bench holding their literary treasures while Sam disappeared amongst the darkness. Clark was twisting and turning Maggie nearby, and at one point he leaned over and said, “She actually knows who is singing this song!”
Huh? How? Who?
Which brings me to a point. Or dilemma. We don’t really listen to “popular” music with our kids. They mostly still enjoy Raffi… which I realize isn’t going to earn either of them slow dances anytime soon. (Good!) When they are cruising around in Clark’s truck, he exposes them to air drumming and 80’s heavy metal brutalness. In my car it’s a bit more old school, as we like to jam out to Peter, Paul, and Mary (they know every word to Marvelous Toy – it’s a great song that brings tears to my eyes every time we sing it). They also love the Beatles, and I often catch them singing Obladi, Oblada together while they are coloring, building legos creations, or any other mindless activity that doesn’t typically involve sparring.
So how did Maggie know the singer of this song? I tried to talk to Clark discreetly about it on the drive home. It went something like this:
Staci, whispering to Clark: “So who was singing that song you said she recognized?”
Clark, whispering back: “She said it was Justin Bieber.”
Staci, still whispering: “No, it was a girl singing the song you were talking about.”
Clark, chuckling: “No, I think that WAS Justin Bieber.”
Maggie, yelling emphatically: “IT WAS JUSTIN BIEBER. IT WAS!!”
(What is with kids and their supersonic hearing, by the way? But back to the dialogue….)
Sam: “I can’t stand Justin Beaver.”
Rest of car: “BieBER!”
Staci: “It’s BieBER, not BeaVER. He’s not some animal who chews down trees with his teeth.”
Sam: “Ohhhh. Well… I still don’t like him. One night he came on the radio and I climbed all the way out of my top bunk to just shut him off.”
So there you have it.