Life

Ballroom dancing… for kids

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.

MC

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Writing

Best Laid Plans

How does this sound? You’ve cleaned up the morning dishes, cleaned up your writing room (it is the first room in the house as you come in the door and gets loaded up with coats, mittens, boots, nerf guns, you name it), the dishwasher is humming away, the dryer is spinning in the next room. You’ve got a large mug of hot tea by your side, journal and pen in hand, ready to write down your writing goals for 2018. The house is quiet, surrounded in fresh white snow and the family is at work and school and the dog is planted at your feet. Cozy, huh. Continue reading “Best Laid Plans”

parenting

Disrupted sleep leads to a hard topic

I’m drifting off to sleep when I feel something jostling my arm. A soft voice whispering but I can’t make it out. I want to sleep. The jerky nudging continues until I can’t ignore it anymore and my eyes adjust to see the hazy outline of Liam bending over me, loud whispering something I still can’t hear. The words are lost but I can hear the urgency in his voice, a mother’s fine-tuned sense of when something is wrong with your kid.

This is the third time over the past week we’ve been through this. I urge him to tell me louder what’s the matter since I’ve taken my hearing aids off for the night and sound is like an underwater cacophony to me without them. He tells me in a louder voice, right next to my ear, he can’t fall asleep. He’s ten and five feet tall, nearly my height, practically adult sized but he wants to get in bed with us. I try to dissuade him telling him he’ll sleep better in his own bed, knowing I’ll sleep better if he’s in his own bed.

Continue reading “Disrupted sleep leads to a hard topic”

Life

A Boy and His Frog

I’m not one to plan too far ahead. There are always fuzzy plans in the future and then about an hour or two before we’re to set out, I’ll start to consider what the plans entail. This happened Saturday when we had to go to a party hosted by one of the partners at my husband’s firm. The party was to begin at 2:00 so at noon I began sending him a flurry of texts about the afternoon ahead. Do we need to bring anything? How long will we be there? How should I dress? What else do we need? This is where I find out it will be a pool party so I hunt and gather the things Liam will need: swimsuit, towel, flip flops, sunscreen. Flowers for the host. After a time, we’re ready to go.

I forget Liam (a 10-year-old) sometimes has an issue with new situations and I didn’t foresee that this would be one of them. Surely anything that involves a pool is outside the realm of social anxiety. I’m not sure where he gets this. OK, he gets it from me. I was an awkwardly shy kid and still get quiet in new situations or with meeting new people.

Continue reading “A Boy and His Frog”