This past weekend was our first Middle School Dance of the year. As the children arrived in their fancy dresses and colorful khaki’s, I couldn’t help but swell with joy that this rite of passage remains the same despite decades since my own adolescence. The MS dance is a sweet tradition. The shoes come off, the dancing basically consists of jumping around in circles, with the occasional “dance of the day” (whip/nae-nae, anyone?), maybe a bold boy-girl slow dance, and lots of running to the bathroom in groups. It was the same in 1992 and I hope that it will be the same in 2022.
As much as I talk about the reimagining of teaching and learning in this age, there are some traditions that are “sacred cows.” I believe there is comfort in knowing that despite the vast changes in brain development of our children that this coming-of-age still exists. We push our children academically and athletically to a much higher degree now but they are, truly, still children and it is these moments that we can rejoice in their childhood. It is events such as this where they build their own sense of self; will they be the brave boy who does the splits or the girl who leads the conga line? These small moments shape their journey of identity in fragments that will lead to their wholeness.
As the children left on Saturday night there were smiles, dirty feet, and sweaty hair and the comfort in the knowledge that some parts of being 12 and 13 are just as they should be and always have been.