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The Dance

Every year,  at least one news source releases a list of everything that the latest class of incoming college freshmen have never experienced. The articles are often written under the guise of reminding professors that they are teaching to a group of students whose life perspective is completely different from theirs.

That’s the “supposed” reason for the release of these articles.

I think they are really intended to remind people like me how old we are.

Generally, I can feel old without being told that River Phoenix died before this year’s college freshmen were born, that Ferris Bueller would be old enough to be their father or that they have always been able to download music from the internet.

I don’t need the news stories because I have teenagers who constantly remind me that, if I were a car, I’d be a categorized as a “classic.”

Despite my best efforts to be hip, my kids let me know that just using that word dates me. To them, hips are a part of a body and the word “cool” is to describe something that is getting cold. They deem things they like as “chill.”

And while “chill” has yet to make it into my vocabulary, I feel fortunate to even understanding what my kids are saying when they use that word. At least it is a word.

Much of what they communicate is in a code that grew out of their love of text messaging. I once thought I was keeping up with the times (I actually did Laugh Out Loud when my former boss, a retired Army Colonel, expressed confusion that a male colleague was responding to his emails with Lots OLove), but those days are over.

Now, I find myself constantly googling random groups of letters that mean something to my kids and their friends.

But there are many things that I can’t Google – like the nuances of the high school culture in which my kids spend most of their waking hours.

Take, for example, the dynamics of the homecoming dance.homecoming ask

When I was in high school, there were only two options for attending the homecoming dance. The first was that you went with your significant other, and that significant had to be a member of the opposite sex. Thankfully, that tradition has been kicked out the door and down the street. People can go as best friends, as same-sex couples or by themselves. That’s cool, or uh, make that “chill.”

Also back in my day, if you didn’t have a significant other, you hoped that someone (always a member of the opposite sex) would ask you to the dance. If not, you knew you were destined to sit at home on the night of the dance watching the latest episodes of The Love Boat and Fantasy Island.

Now that no one has to have a date to the homecoming dance and students can attend with whomever they like, I thought the issue of the homecoming dance is a simple one. You either go or you don’t go.

I was wrong.

Asking someone to the homecoming dance now requires a creative and/or romantic proposal that is social media worthy. This is even more critical when you are already dating someone – the ask has to be huge.

If you don’t have teenagers in your life or you’re not keeping an eye on Instagram, you haven’t had to endure the onslaught of photos showing just how creative adolescents can be regarding the “big ask.”  The whole trend makes me roll my eyes. On one hand, it’s cute. On the other hand, it’s completely ridiculous.

But then, most of our most treasured memories grow out of ridiculous moments.

I may be old (according to my kids) and I may have a great deal of life experience (according to the annual list about the experiences of college freshmen), but I am still young enough to appreciate the need to seek joy wherever we can find it.

So much of life doesn’t follow the script we attempt to write for ourselves.  Life can be complicated and disappointing, and teenagers today understand this more than my generation ever did. They have to because the world is literally at their fingertips

But instead of simply accepting that life can be difficult, they are finding ways to enjoy it  whenever and however possible.

If that means making a big deal out of asking someone to a dance, then I shouldn’t roll my eyes.

Instead, I should be using my eyes for something else – looking at the list of all things my kids have never experienced from a different angle.

I shouldn’t be seeing how old I am and how young they are. Instead, I should be looking at all of the possibilities my children still have in front of them. Even more importantly, I should be looking at all the opportunities they have to make their dance through this life as joyous and memorable as they want it to be.

 

 

365 Reasons to Smile – Day 104

balloonsI’m sure my parents worried about me a bit when I was a teenager. Actually, they worried about me a lot when I was a teenager.

But I have no doubt some of their worries were directly related to they way I decorated my room. I didn’t have a room indicative of teenage rebellion or angst. My room was decorated with balloons and items featuring balloons.

The obsession might have appeared to be a bit juvenile to those who didn’t know “the code.”

“The code” was born when friends and I were volunteering at a booth at a summer fair. We had the task of filling balloons with helium, tying them with strings and handing them to children.

Part of our motivation for volunteering was the opportunity to watch teenage boys. At some point during our volunteer work, we decided that our code word for a good-looking guy was “balloon” and that a good-looking guy with a girlfriend was a “balloon with a string.”

The code stuck, and for at least a year, we thought we were clever. And I thought I was even more clever for decorating my room with balloons.

In retrospect, I don’t think the concept was all that clever.  But my memory of those balloons always makes me smile.

Day 104:  Sharing a Secret Language

Day 103:  The Electric Company  Day 102:  Doing the Right Thing

Day 101:  When Siblings Agree  Day 100: Being Optimistic  Day 99: Trying Something New   Day 98:  The Sound of Children on a Playground  Day 97: Good Advice  Day 96: Red and white peppermint candy  Day 95:  The Soundtrack from the Movie Shrek  Day 94:  Accepting Change    Day 93:  True Love     Day 92: Camera Phones   Day 91: Bicycle Brakes    Day 90:  Heroes Day 89: The Cricket in Times Square  Day 88:  The Grand Canyon  Day 87: Unanswered Prayers  Day 86: Apples Fresh from the Orchard  Day 85: Being Human  Day 84: Captain Underpants  Day 83: The Diary of Anne Frank  Day 82: In Cold Blood Day 81: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry  Day 80: The Outsiders   Day 79:  I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Day 78: The First Amendment Day 77: People Who Touch Our Lives   Day 76:  The Rewards of Parenting    Day 75:  Improvements   Day 74:  Family Traditions   Day 73: Learning From Our Mistakes  Day 72: Live Music  Day 71:  Sleeping In  Day 70:  Grover  Day 69:  A Good Hair Day   Day 68:  A Sense of Community   Day 67: Kindness    Day 66: Living in a Place You Love   Day 65: Gifts from the Heart  Day 64: The Arrival of Fall  Day 63: To Kill a Mockingbird   Day 62: Green Lights Day 61:  My Canine Friends  Day 60:  Differences   Day 59:  A New Box of Crayons   Day 58: Bookworms  Day 57: Being Oblivious   Day 56: Three-day Weekends  Day 55:  A Cat Purring  Day 54: Being a Unique Individual   Day 53: Children’s Artwork  Day 52: Lefties  Day 51: The Neighborhood Deer   Day 50: Campfires  Day 49: Childhood Crushes  Day  48: The Words “Miss You”  Day 47:  Birthday Stories   Day 46: Nature’s Hold on Us  Day 45:  Play-Doh   Day 44: First Day of School Pictures  Day 43: Calvin and Hobbes  Day 42: Appreciative Readers  Day 41: Marilyn Monroe’s Best Quote   Day 40:  Being Silly  Day 39:  Being Happy Exactly Where You Are  Day 38: Proud Grandparents  Day 37: Chocolate Chip Cookies   Day 36: Challenging Experiences that Make Great Stories  Day 35: You Can’t Always Get What You Want  Day 34:  Accepting the Fog    Day 33: I See the Moon  Day 32: The Stonehenge Scene from This is Spinal Tap  Day 31: Perspective  Day 30:  Unlikely Friendships  Day 29: Good Samaritans  Day 28:  Am I a Man or Am I a Muppet?    Day 27: Shadows  Day 26: Bike Riding on Country Roads  Day 25: When Harry Met Sally  Day 24: Hibiscus   Day 23: The Ice Cream Truck  Day 22:  The Wonderful World of Disney   Day 21: Puppy love  Day 20 Personal Theme Songs     Day 19:  Summer Clouds  Day 18: Bartholomew Cubbin’s Victory Day 17:  A Royal Birth    Day 16:  Creative Kids Day 15: The Scent of Honeysuckle   Day 14: Clip of Kevin Kline Exploring His Masculinity Day 13: Random Text Messages from My Daughter     Day 12:  Round Bales of Hay Day 11:  Water Fountains for Dogs    Day 10: The Rainier Beer Motorcycle Commercial Day 9: Four-Leaf Clovers  Day 8: Great Teachers We Still Remember Day  7:  Finding the missing sock   Day 6:  Children’s books that teach life-long lessons Day 5: The Perfect Photo at the Perfect Moment     Day 4:  Jumping in Puddles   Day 3: The Ride Downhill after the Struggle Uphill    Day 2: Old Photographs Day 1: The Martians on Sesame Street