Friday, February 15, 2008
And so it begins...
Tonight was another milestone for Dear Daughter--the very first Middle School Dance. Despite weeks of discussion and preparation, neither of us was really ready for this. I had all kinds of reasons for trepidation-- starting with my natural tendency to be a spazz. I'm sorry--I am an overprotective mother. I can't help it. I worry. She's my only child. It's all happening too fast. And I can't say that two shootings in the local public schools inside of a week, plus the terrible tragedy at Northern Illinois University have helped. She's only 12, and events like a school dance should be happy, exciting and fun.
For the past month, Dear Daughter has moped around telling me that she has no friends and that no one likes her. Judging from the giggling squad of girls who waved frantically calling her name when I dropped her off, I'd say this might be an exaggeration. I'm not discounting her feelings. These are tough years. The Hormone Fairy is causing random mood swings and the pressure of increasingly complex school work is mounting. Girls and boys who have been friends for five years or so are suddenly looking at each other with new eyes, and wondering how to channel new, strange feelings. Dear Daughter tells me who in her class is "going out" with whom and who "broke up" with whom. "Going out?" In sixth grade? I ask her, "where do they go? 'Out' the front door into the yard? This isn't real dating (thank heavens), but it's a nervous little prelude to what will come in a few years. I don't much like it. I want her to enjoy herself, but I'd be happy if the pressures of crushes and girl-feuds and weird boys could be put off just a while longer.
I helped her roll her hair and bent my usual inflexible rules about makeup and let her wear a smidgen of mascara. She has been armed with her own lip gloss for a while now. She did look sweet and comfortable. I dropped her off and she disappeared into a sea of kids.
Two hours later I walked into the noisy din of the school cafeteria. She was easy to spot, even among the 899 other sweaty, rowdy students. She was smiling. She was hanging out with a giggling group of girls who had spent the evening taking photos, eating pizza, swilling soda and chasing classmates around the room.
She's calming down a little before bed. It was a great evening for her. It turned out okay for me as well. She's still my little girl. Right now, she's snuggling in the bed with her dear old stuffed Bunny, laughing at some shared joke between them. The future can wait. All's right with the world.