The Time I Chaperoned My First Dance

There is so much I want to write about, dear Reader, it’s been too long. I am just starting to catch my breath after a crazy busy three weeks at the movie theater. I have wanted to tell you about the baby and momma bear I ran into on my hike a few weeks ago with Coco (my very large, very sweet German shepherd, who is the size of a small horse) after just thinking to myself that I hadn’t seen any wildlife on my hikes in a long time. Sometimes I think the Universe likes to jinx you like that. I would have missed the bears if it wasn’t for Coco barking, which makes me wonder how many times I have been watched in the woods by animals without my knowledge before I had a dog. Kind of eery if you let yourself think about it too long.

I caught sight of the baby bear peaking out behind a tree, like a child playing hide-and-go-seek. He seemed scared to be seen but then his curiosity got the better of him. I thought to myself “How adorable” before catching sight of the watchful Momma Bear behind him, about the size of three of the biggest linebackers you can imagine. She didn’t move a muscle, only starred at Coco and me. I took off in a hurry, trotting down the trail like an Olympic speed walker and checking behind me to make sure we weren’t being followed. Coco was right there beside me, as if to say, “Let’s get the heck out of here, Mom. That’s the first animal I’ve seen that’s bigger than me.”

I have wanted to tell you about the joys and pitfalls of running a Night Business, how our children love that we own a movie theater (i.e. personal candy store) but sometimes they pay the price. Like when we have to take our 6-year-old to the theater and she ends up watching three hours straight of ‘Mako Mermaids’ on the office computer while we are busy downstairs managing 150 people trying to get through the doors at one time to watch a ski movie premiere. By the time we pry her hands from the keyboard to go home, her eyes are glazed over and she has completely lost her mind and turned into some kind of pint-sized monster. She shouts “Just 5 more minutes!” and “I didn’t finish my Skittles!” before we sling her over our shoulder and placer her in her booster seat, where she pouts all the way home. It’s like she was a guinea pig for a scientific study on the affects of screen time and sugar on children. Note to self: feed child before subjecting her to three hours of ‘Mako Mermaids’ and sugar influx.

But what I really wanted to tell you about, Dear Reader, was that I chaperoned my first middle school dance. Being asked to chaperone is essentially being given free reign to spy on your child in their own environment. This is how I told my 12-year old I would be at his dance:

Kaiden: “My school dance is Friday.”

Me: “I know, I’m chaperoning.”

Kaiden: “No you’re not.”

Me: “Yes I am.”

Kaiden: “No you’re not.”

Me: “Yes I am.”

We did that for about 5 minutes before I finally wore him down and he threw his hands up in the air and conceded. But I had to rub in my victory a little.

“Can I come up and hug you at the dance? Maybe give you a kiss?”

“Mom, no!”

Being an adult at a middle school dance means that you stick out like a soar thumb while at the same time being invisible. Kids eye you warily as you approach them while they are dancing, yet when I would try to talk to kids, half the time I was ignored. I was stationed at the bottom of the stairs where kids came screaming out of the “haunted house” (a dark girls’ locker room where high school kids jumped out from behind lockers to scare them), and my job was to make sure the kids went back to the dance, as opposed to taking it upon themselves to explore unsupervised areas of the school. As a group of 12 and 13-years olds would come barreling down the stairs, I would ask: “Was that scary?”

Response: furtive eye contact, followed by no response or a quick yes or no.

I eventually convinced my friend Lola (who seemed to be the only one making requests to the DJ) to trade positions so I could be closer to the action and really spy on my kid. Middle school is still an awkward, innocent time. To my disappointment, I didn’t see any boy-girl slow dancing action, only groups of boys and girls dancing together. And then the song “Cha Cha Slide” came on, which I guess is this generation’s version of the ‘Macarena’ or ‘Achy Breaky Heart,’ because all the kids started busting out the same moves and I started to feel really old because I had never heard of that song.

I was just starting to feel sorry for myself – at how long ago my own middle school dance was starting to feel (hello, ‘Stairway to Heaven!’) – when my friend Amy told me she had holed up in the girls bathroom so she could eavesdrop on her own daughter, and brought back this little gem to me that she overheard: “Don’t let a boy ruin your night. You paid $5 to be here tonight!”

All of a sudden, I didn’t miss middle school that much anymore. I much prefer being a Momma Bear spying on my kids.

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