Friday night, I had the joy of attending a high school dance as a chaperone. This is not something I make a habit of and truthfully, I was just there for work. Can I just say, it shocks me that there are people in the world patient enough to surround themselves with these creatures on a daily basis. High School teachers, I bow down to you.
So as I sat, yes sat,
Indian style criss-cross apple sauce (don’t you know that isn’t PC these days?) at the edge of the gym, I sat back and marveled at these truly terrifying creatures. The rave theme lent itself to some unique outfit choices. But mostly it was a whole lot of cheer shorts (oh, those were the days), knee-high socks, and neon. And even more grinding.
Do you remember grinding? That thing so many of us did, openly rubbing on each other in public. When I think back, I cringe. We did that in front of our most beloved teachers? What did they think of us as they watched us mimic adult activities with clothes on, merely hours after thoughtful conversation in AP class?
Given, I cannot dance. I once was dirty dancing with a guy in college and he kind of stops and goes, can you hear the beat? Oh I can hear it, but I definitely can’t find it. Don’t rain on my super white girl parade. Just let me do my thang.
And just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse “shorty got low.” And that’s when I realized just how truly terrifying they were. These people are allowed to drive? They’re allowed to make major life decisions? They’re allowed to have sex with each other? Heebie jeebies like whoa.
It’s an overused quote but a good one, “Youth is wasted on the young.”
I look back and I don’t feel wildly different from the 16 year-old who was doing exactly what they were. I’ve had a ton of life experience since then but my values, personality, and hairstyle haven’t changed a bit. Obviously my dance moves have. Even when I think back on 22-year-old Nadine, I’m astounded by her tenacity. She drank how much? She managed to stay out until the bars closed? Yes, I still feel like that girl too, but my habits are nothing like hers.
Terrifying as they may be, I love getting to work with high school students. Could I work with classrooms full of them, in person, every day? No, probably not. But working with them reminds me of how much life has changed and how much it stays the same. Their worries, fears, and thrills are the same that mine were. Some are even the same today. And that girl who is “backing it up” is the future. She could be President, a movie star, or someones Mom (hopefully not any time soon). She may not realize her potential yet. And someday she’ll look back on all those times she spent a Friday night grinding on some gross high school boy and laugh, just as I did Friday night.
But until then, she’s a little terrifying.