Monthly Archives: November 2014
Life is settling back down in our home, and our older daughter today participated in a rite of passage – first middle school dance. Daughter was invited to a friend’s house to hang out and get ready with other 6th grade girls. It is often more fun for girls to do this in a group setting. I have raised three sons and not a one of them ever got dance ready with a group.
This morning, we were working out the logistics of getting her special outfit to the get ready house. “Mom, what are you going to DO when you come by and bring my stuff.” Seizing the moment, I shot back, “I will come right into the middle of all of your friends and say, hey, I’m SG’s mom and I am here to hang out with you for the afternoon.” This was met with a grin, eye roll and a “mommm”.
She attends a small charter school and there were dance expectations communicated ahead of time. No dates to the dance. If someone asks you to dance with them, say yes. You can only ask any other classmate one time each. These seemed reasonable, inclusive, kind and appropriate– a part of the overall culture of this school. Parent chaperones are a necessity for such events, and I signed up for the early shift. If my concussion recovering child needed to come home early, I would be there to bring her home.
Walking through this day flashed me back to days gone by with my boys. There were no group get ready events, but I did learn a few things during the middle school dance days of yore. Always volunteer to drive the carpool home from the dance. There is something about being the driver of a car full of middle schoolers that creates an invisibility cloak for the driver. They talk and carry on like you aren’t there. If girls are in the mix, it is an even greater place to get good info on what is happening in their world.
I also traveled back to my own first middle school dance. A friend, who later came out as gay, asked me to dance. I said NO. He cried. I regret that moment in my life. I am sure it took a lot of courage for him to ask and that there was a lot of conflict going on inside of him. I sure didn’t help it any on that day. I wish that we had the same middle school dance rules as my daughter’s compassionate school.
Tonight I arrived at the dance venue and took up my chaperone spot at the entrance to the dance room. My girl was coming a bit later with her gang of friends. I took it all in – the loud music and flashing lights, awkward kids arriving in the early moments trying to figure out what to do with themselves, the amazing gap between 6th grade boys and 8th grade girls – the middle school milieu.
Kids were streaming in and I was busy with my duties. And then I looked up and saw my beautiful girl. I was moved to tears. She had taken off her glasses, fixed her hair, carried a purse and looked so radiant and grown up. With all that we have experienced in recent weeks, I could barely contain my emotions. She walked right in, tossed a subtle smile my way and then made her way to the dance floor. She and her friends danced a bit self-consciously at first, but as the crowd grew, she seemed more at ease. This girl is an incredible dancer and it is always a joy to watch her move with abandon.
Daughter was still going strong when mom left the dance after a couple of hours. If anyone got a headache from the pounding music, it was mom. Heading home, I drove right past the trauma center that we visited together just three weeks ago. I let myself recall and be mindful of what a gift and a blessing is this child. The fragility of life has been firmly impressed upon heart and mind in recent weeks. I am most grateful that tonight we together and separately experienced her first middle school dance.
Halloween marked two weeks since our girl took a long fall from a tree. We returned to the concussion clinic and received the gracious news that she is “back to normal” in all brain measurable ways. That was music to our ears. Our daughter is particularly happy that this machine measured her balance as above average – it was extremely below that when first tested.
Her mom can now stop hovering over her as if she is a one year old just learning to walk. She can get up on a curb without my heart fluttering, go down steps without mom and dad coming beside her and holding her hand, and she can put her hands in her pockets when they are cold. She will continue to learn lessons in listening to her body and resting when it says to do so. Her recovery will continue for weeks to come, but she has been cleared to return to full days of school on Monday. I will say it once again. We are extremely grateful and will ponder this event for the rest of our lives. She is such a gift to our family, and that has been magnified and imprinted more fully on our hearts in recent days.
Halloween in our new neighborhood did not disappoint. On Halloween eve, we all prepared. We got our lights just how we wanted them on our stepped up decorated home.
We gathered up our candy and readied ourselves for the masses we had been told would descend.
We carefully read our “street closure notice” and digested the fact that our city’s police department had determined that for safety reasons, a block in each direction from our neighborhood Halloween home extraordinaire would be officially closed from 5:30-9:30 pm. Jesse is making the big time.
On the afternoon of the big event, my husband and I wandered down to Jesse’s house to see it one last time in the daylight. Here is some of what we saw.
Yes, there was a news crew getting ready for the big event. I am hoping that the helicopter up above us was covering Friday afternoon traffic and not the coming madness. The house below is right next door to the craziness. Seems like the message here is that they have had enough of the whole thing.
We donned our costumes and divided up responsibilities. I would go out with our girls and dad and youngest son would stay home and camp out on the porch for the big candy give away. I handed off my jelly costume to my boy. He wore it proudly.
So off Maleficent, the phantom and I went to meet up with veteran neighborhood trick or treaters. It was Halloween like we’d never experienced it. There were several places where the kids had to stand in line. My favorite was the house that had a candy line for kids and a wine line for grown ups. We wandered the streets, took in the sights and had a delightful time.
Of course, Jesse’s house was the highlight. A few pictures that don’t really do the whole scene justice but will give you a taste.
The neighbors across the street got into the spirit and entertained with a ghoulish band.
It was pretty much all downhill after our visit to Halloween central. We hit a few more houses and headed home. We relieved our treat givers and around 9:30 gave extra candy to the last stragglers of Halloween. We estimate that all those who told us to expect about 1,000 kids were correct. It seemed to be just over that. I was beat and slept soundly. My husband said that our doorbell rang at around 11pm…