As my son entered fifth grade, we received a mailing about dance and etiquette lessons being offered for local schools. A group of women initiated this program over twenty five years ago where they teach kids in fifth and sixth grades the ins and outs of etiquette along with some traditional dance moves. Dancing with girls! The boys were not a bit interested but the moms banded together and coaxed (bribed) our sons by offering them a fun night out (bugers & ice cream) after the hourlong monthly lessons.
Year one was interesting. It went over well (with only a few groans on the evening of lessons) and if there wasn’t complete joy in the process, there was the camaraderie of the boys getting together monthly. I didn’t know exactly what went on behind those closed doors but at the end of the hour, the kids (probably 50-60 of them) came bursting from the gym in a stampede of energy.
Near the end of the school year, a dinner dance at a local country club was arranged for both the kids and parents to attend. They were deftly handled by the instructors into groups by grade and demonstrated the dances they had worked on through the year – the foxtrot, tango and waltz. It is as cute as you could imagine. The boys dressed in jacket and tie, the girls in fancy dress, hair and makeup as if they were on the way to their first prom.
However, this was as serious of an affair as ever and it looked excruciating for some of the kids as the parents looked on filming every second of it. The night appeared way more enjoyable for the parents who spent the early part of the evening sipping their beverages of choice as they caught up on school gossip. After the kids dutifully performed their dances with each other, we got to dance with them in mother/son and father/daughter variations. I savored it because I was quite sure he’d never agree to doing it in sixth grade.
Fast forward to the beginning of the school year and once again we received the mailing. To my surprise he wanted to do it this year even though most of the boys in his class dropped out. Last week I had the privilege of acting as a chaperone and got a glimpse of the process first hand and I was more impressed than ever.
The first part of the evening was all about etiquette and how to introduce yourself to grown ups. I stood in place as a line of 25 boys of all sizes shook my hand and looked me in the eye as they announced their name and their pleasure to make my acquaintance. I wanted to hug every last one of them.
Then the lesson began. The steps were practiced, the boys and girls in a line opposite each other and the they were paired up to practice for a bit until the music came on. It was easy to tell who didn’t want to be there. It was fun watching the interactions and I have to say there wasn’t a lot of chaperoning involed. We were the only ones from our school at the event because of ski club (my son’s broken wrist kept us off the slopes). We’re about halfway through the lessons but I can already see how they have improved. These are wonderful life lessons for these middle grade kids.