the thrill of the ride
“It was crazy, mom,” my sixth grade son breathed when he burst through the door after his first middle school fun night.
“Is that good?” I wondered, my imagination filling with crazy things that could happen in middle school.
“I think it was the best night of my life!” he gushed.
Whew. I breathed a sigh of relief and basked in his excitement as he told me all about the pizza, the dodge ball, and the crazy dancing, with everyone jumping and shouting to the hippest tunes. He demonstrated, jumping, bobbing his head and waving one arm high: “You (bounce, bounce) change your mind (bounce, bounce) like a girl (bounce, bounce) changes clothes (bounce, bounce). . . ” I was energized and exhausted at the same time, just watching him buzz through the joy of youth.
“Well, he’s an extrovert,” my rather introverted husband deadpanned. An understatement, if ever there was one. This son definitely draws his energy from the crowd.
Fun nights are a huge improvement over the junior high dances I remember. No longer do opposite sexes line up against the wall, awkwardly awaiting an invitation or hiding away in the crowd. At our school, fun night includes options for the wild diversity of teen or tweenhood: swimming, basketball, dodge ball, food, dancing (mostly in groups), or just hanging out. Kids are given opportunities to find their comfort zone and revel in it. Chaperoning one of these events is a fascinating window to the middle school habitat.
Of course, there’s no escaping the complicated social dynamics of that age. At any given turn, for mysterious reasons, one can slide from the top of this exciting roller coaster to the depths, wondering if he’ll ever rise again.
For tonight, my boy is feeling the thrill of the ride, and I’m thrilled with him. I hope that he hangs on to that confidence as the roller coaster lurches through its necessary twists and turns, the recent joy boosting him through the low scoops.
And I pray that he stays safe and securely buckled for the duration.