Sunday, February 18, 2007

Valentines Dance -- Last Dance

OK, one final nail in the “I can’t believe my baby is growing up so fast” coffin and then I’ll let it go.

When the school announced plans for it’s first annual Valentines Dance for 4th and 5th graders, I had no idea the drama that would ensue over who was going with who. Phone calls were made, feelings were hurt, tears were shed. 4th grade, people. 4th grade.

All I can say is thank goodness Brayden was asked by a lovely young man named Michael. Michael’s mother and I are friends, so that made it even nicer. And although Brayden would most likely be mortified that I told you this, she sent love notes to Michael in kindergarten, which makes this 4th grade date to the Valentines Dance even sweeter.

Getting her makeup done

Getting her hair done

Waiting (not-so) patiently while her mother makes her pose for just one more photo

What I wouldn’t give for skin this clear, unwrinkled, unlined, unwrinkled, unblemished, and most importantly, unwrinkled. Did I mention unwrinkled?

Michael arriving as the perfect date, complete with a corsage. Brayden, as evidenced by the look on her face, has no idea what this wrist corsage is about, despite my telling her what would happen beforehand.

Neither me nor Michael’s mom could get his boutonnière pinned to his chest, so my friend Jeanette, who had done Brayden’s hair and makeup, had to do it. Then, being the obnoxious scrapbookers that we are, we made Brayden pretend she was pinning it on so we could take a picture.

I’m pretty sure right about now both Michael and Brayden were wishing they had just stayed home and played video games.

But look how nice they clean up!

And here we go, with the actual dancing. Since I was the “official” photographer for the dance, I was able to covertly take a few pictures while the kids were getting their groove on. Except the only song they would dance was the Cha-Cha Slide. So they just played that one song, about twelve million times. The rest of the night the kids just ran around, chasing each other with balloons, and posing for twelve hundred formal portraits. But I was still glad to get a few photos of Brayden dancing. Look how happy these kids are, and how much fun they’re having. As long as it never, ever, ever, EVER involves dollar bills or a pole, she can keep it up as long as she wants.

And that, actually, is the reason this whole night was bittersweet to me. Not because my little girl is growing up so fast, and would be turning ten in just a few days, and was going to her first dance, but because she was actually going to her LAST dance, although she doesn’t even know it yet.

Blaine only has one year left before he is eligible for retirement from the Air Force, and at some point we will be moving back to Oklahoma. We are going to send our children to the local school where my sister and I graduated; where my mom and dad graduated; where my grandpa graduated; where my aunts and uncles and cousins graduated, where my nephews currently attend …. You get the picture. Everyone knows everyone in this little town, and has, for years. Depending on your mood, it’s either very Norman-Rockwell, or very creepy.

My home town is all about the church. It’s a long history, and I won’t bore you with the details today, but the local elementary, middle and high school, all were built together on land donated by the private, religious university next door. It’s a public school, not a private one, but since it is so closely tied to the church, there are a few guidelines the school has always followed in an attempt to adhere to the Nazarene way of thinking. Nothing extreme --- the students aren’t required to wear gunny sacks or pray for eight hours a day or plow their fields by lantern or carry around the carcass of a dead chicken or anything. There’s probably a whole post about my psuedo-Nazarene upbringing, but I won’t go into it here.

But, we don’t have dances. Ever. At all. Not even a prom. Because dancing with members of the opposite sex is the Devil’s work -- inviting temptation and not at all appropriate. Moving your body to music, especially near a boy, is sinful, lustful, and leads to nasty things. At least that is what I was told all my life, which is probably why the minute I turned twenty-one I headed for the nearest dance club and pretty much moved in for six months or so, until I had danced to every song ever recorded. Because nothing, NOTHING, makes a kid want to do something more than telling them they shouldn’t. I don’t think the authority figures at my old school are EVER going to figure that one out.

It’s this big stupid drama every year, or at least it was when my sister and I were students. Back in my mom and dad’s day, I don’t think they cared. And back in my grandpa’s day, well, I have no idea. But every year while **I** was in school, the students would always, ALWAYS, make a formal request to the school board for permission to hold a dance, and it was always, ALWAYS, denied. And yes, Footloose came out my senior year of high school, and if you think we didn’t identify with that movie and talk about how it was OUR OWN STORY, OH MY GOSH, THAT MOVIE IS ABOUT US and walk around channeling the identities of Kevin Bacon and whoever that girl was, well, you just know that we did.

Every year, discussions would go back and forth about how this is a public school, and all public schools have proms, and we’ve got pregnant chicks walking the halls already, so isn’t it a bit hypocritical to be told *dancing* is immoral??? And as students, we would be outraged that our constitutional right to wear hoop dresses and big permed hair (hey, this was the 80’s after all) and rent a limo for the night was being denied to us. And the school board would pretend to consider it, and come back every single time and say no. So, every single year, the senior class would find a student whose parents were members of the local country club, and we students would plan our own dance. To be held after the Jr. Sr. BANQUET, which was the big event the school planned for us. Because nothing says “hey, let’s spend two hundred dollars on a dress and get our hair and nails done and rent tuxedos and buy matching corsages!” quite like sitting down at a round table for ten and dining on chicken kiev and watching a magician for the evening’s entertainment. Whoo! That’s some big fun, there, for a bunch of 17 and 18 year olds!

I’m pretty sure times haven’t changed, and they still don’t have dances at my old school. Still, with the old-school Nazarene way of thinking. Still, with me rolling my eyes.

The positive aspects of this school so completely outweigh the negatives that we will be sending our children there without any hesitation. But it makes me a little sad to know that unless times and policies have updated, my kids will never get to experience a typical prom experience. Instead, they’ll eat chicken kiev in the banquet room of the local Sheraton, and clap politely when the magician is over (and possibly show up drunk and catch the centerpiece on fire, which is what one of my friends did one year) and then when the Jr. Sr. Banquet is over, they’ll shuttle on over to the country club and hold their own dance, which is exactly what we did. They’ll hire a DJ, and a caterer, and pay for it with their own money, and dance all night. Moving, shaking, and sweating with members of the opposite sex, all to the beat of music.

I’m pretty sure Jesus still loves us, and not one kid wound up pregnant that night.

Seriously. {rolly eyes} The school board REALLY needs to get with the program.

Because damn it, my daughter deserves the right to buy the perfect taffetta dress and rent a limo with her friends and do the Cha-Cha Slide again in eight years.

After all, I have photos that need taking.


Amy said...

I can see it now.......



I'm with ya sister....


California Friend said...

Wow Kristie, your school sounds about as bad as mine, although YOU still can find positive things with yours!! Good for you (& the kids)!! Tell me, were you able to wear patent leather shoes? We couldn't because that would let the boys see up our uniform skirts!! LOL

Pat in CA

Sarah said...

Got to agree with Amy ! I see a school board run for you in the future ! Just another thing to make Blaine's eyes roll ;-)It is pretty cool to have all your family at the same school. My kids have the same thing here going to school with cousins and they love it for the most part. Also the photo of you holding Brayden when she was born I was like go Kristie makeup, real clothes and looking fab right after having a baby then I kept reading !!

Megan said...

Actually Bethany does have dances now they just call them "banquets" to get around the whole Nazarine thing, so there is food but they do have a DJ and a dance floor. Which did not start until after I graduated, but was just in time for my stinky brother. So Brayden will get to do the whole getting dressed up thing and who knows maybe she will date a boy from a different school and will get to go to his prom.

Cindy said...

In upstate NY, we are about as far away from Oklahoma and religious conservatism as you can get. This year, our high school chose to eliminate dances -- at the request of the student government!

The kids explained that MTV and other media show "normal" dancing as grinding your nether regions together, or sandwiching a boy between the pelvices of two girls, ... you get the idea. We couldn't find any teachers willing to chaperone. Even those recently out of college said it was embarassing to watch the grinding Saturday night and have those same kids at their desks Monday morning. We tried bringing in a swing dance teacher. We tried different music, since hip-hop songs seem to be "over stimulating." It had gotten to the point that our student council president said kids thought dances were basically sex with clothes on.

So, the kids decided to eliminate dances. At least the Homecoming Dance and Snow Ball. We still plan to have a Junior Prom and Senior Ball, but everyone is on the edge of their seat wondering if the kids will clean up their act. And the BOE members have dropped jaws

Perhaps our schools should get together, though I doubt you would want ours holding dance instruction for yours! There's got to be a happy medium.

Anonymous said...

Maybe there's hope...

NY Times article about first dances at some conservative Christian colleges

Kristin Hicks said...

I swear as I started reading your post the song 'Footloose' erupted in my head. I will probably age myself here, but as a kid growing up I was convinced that high school was either like Grease or Footloose. It was how I envisioned it. :0) Your kids will get to live out my dream that high school is like Footloose. :0)

Brayden looks beautiful. I can't imagine having to go through that in a few years. It's choking me up just thinking about it.

Tammy said...

Dh and I both grew up in that type of schooling, dancing was satan's game...(insert rolling of eyes here)Although we did have banquets, it wasnt the same.
I would be moving to the next town over!

Can you believe that you are going to retire soon? we have 2 years left! OMG!

Leeann said...

Hey woman,
Love the pictures of Brayden getting ready for the dance. She looks beautiful!
Still waiting for the adoption story....

kim said...

Hey Kristie--Add my name to Amy and Sarah in support of the "Kristie for School Board" movement. Because those pictures of Brayden are just too beautiful to be the "last". The one of her with Michael is just precious! So, you displaced Okie you, once you're back, let 'em know you're REALLY back and shake things up a little. HAHAHA! Just what we Virgos love to do; call unnecessary attention to ourselves--more HAHA!

I also immediately thought of "Footloose" and then, of course, when you wrote what I was thinking, I just couldn't help but think....wait for it....KRISTIE ROCKS! :)

Tracy said...

I totally had footloose in my head throughout the post.

Brayden is BEAUTIFUL!!!! I didn't realize she had a date for the dance. How sweet is that?! Kristie, you did an amazing job with the pictures!

briana said...

Just catching up from the weekend, and Kellen's basketball game sounds exactly like Dalton's football game this weekend - challenged player on the other team and all.

I'm glad Brayden was able to experience the dance this year. She (and her date) looked wonderful. And, like you said, the kids will figure something out and they WILL have a dance - it just won't be a school dance.

kbowk said...

Wow, I also had to endure the lovely Jr/Sr Banquet and sit in my pink taffeta! I attended a Christian school that preached that dancing would get you preggers, fer sure. So, we had our own prom at our 10 year reunion!
And also... I was attending David Lipscomb University when they banned MTV from the Student/Stupid seems Janet Jackson was a little too out of "control" was then that I transferred to a state university and learned about the real world!!!

katy said...

The words to remember there are SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS.....They are elected officials and can be voted out! I can see the neighbors now if you move back and start a big uproar to get new school board members in office that actually do what they are supposed to do...what the people that voted them in want them to do. You will be known as Saviors to some and Satans own messenger to others...Good luck with that.

Anonymous said...

Darling photos! I had to laugh about the dancing because I grew up in pretty much the same environment and unfortunately can't give permission to myself to really cut loose even though I'd like to. Funny, though, how my son will dominate a dance floor and be the life of a party. Growing up Baptist, my father was opposed to dancing and said if people want to have a dance, then FINE, but it will be at 12:00 noon on a Saturday with all the lights on and the boys can dance with the boys and the girls can dance with the girls. Well, THAT explains a few of my family members!!!!

Sorry, I can't sign my name this time.

Lisa said...

Wow Kristie - I had to look up the whole Nazarine thing...seems a harsh interpretation of Christianity - and I'm saying this as someone raised Catholic who had nuns that would scare you to death drifting down the halls of the convent...I hope your little girl gets to dance again, its one of lifes pleasures. To plant the idea in a childs mind that dancing is unholy seems very odd to me. Lisa,lapsed catholic, liberal Christian, happily singing "Dance then where ever you may be, I am the Lord of the Dance said He."

Anonymous said...

I went to a Baptist school that had the same view of dancing. It was actually a school rule that you had to be 3 ft from a boy at all times. It was crazy but so deeply ingrained that when I went to a public high school after 8th grade it was like culture shock. I would see couples making out and think, "oooo you are so going to hell." I could never enjoy the dances and always felt uncomfortable. I will not dance in public...although I encourage my children to do so and they love it. I still prefer my husband to maintain the 3 ft rule...just kidding...sort of...I am not comfortable with public displays of affection...see, I'm a teacher and I'm here to say that, sometimes, school can really screw you up...

I can't get this to post as other so I had to go anonymous ~Dawn

jeanette said...

How appropriate you married Blaine- Kevin Bacon look alike!!(Y'all are definately "Footloose" now! Ha Ha) Great pictures, Kristie! Tell Kendrie I will fly out to OK to do HER hair and makeup for the big banquet when her time comes....