Monday, April 7, 2014

Fifth Grade Follies

Here's an unusual topic that I've been hearing quite a bit about lately: the evils of...square dancing. That's right, harmless do-si-do-ing, lighthearted promenading, wholesome swing-your-partner-round-and-round-ing are all getting maligned by the resident 10-year old, who is reacting somewhat disagreeably to being forced to practice his...Little House on the Prairie-ish...skills. You see, it's time for him--like his brother did 3 years ago--to participate in his elementary school's great tradition called Westward Ho, in which the entire 5th grade class "migrates" (trudges, increasingly wearily as the day marches on) across the "plains" (approximately 6 miles of meadows, paths, roads and streams) with their "families" (assigned groups of 4 or 5 fellow students) to arrive in "California" (a local Nature Center reserved for the occasion). It's all tremendous amounts of F-U-N (she says with extra in the knowledge that she fulfilled her educational and parental obligation by accompanying Derek on his pilgrimage. Therefore, you know what that means: it's Husband's turn to get muddy and soaked--um..."share the special bonding experience with his son"! Whoo hoo!)

Anyway, when they complete their trek, having dragged their wagons of provisions to their "new home", they get busy assembling their supplies, cooking a meal over a campfire, filling their bellies, and then for the Grand Finale--you guessed it--entertaining the crowd full of parents and siblings with a rousing demonstration of: Square Dancing. (Yee...haw?) To prepare for this torture--I mean "artistic display"--they have begun practicing at school during Music class. And how's that going? Well, Riley came home one afternoon and proclaimed, shaking his head mournfully, "Mom, square dancing is so...humiliating!" Why, whatever could you mean, honey? (She replied, feigning complete ignorance regarding the tender pre-adolescent sensitivities...) "Well, you have to dance with the girrrrlllls." Here he paused, as if to allow the horror of that statement to fully sink in. (While I nodded sympathetically with a neutral face...and giggled inside...) Then he continued, "And you have to...hold hands!" He delivered this in a tone of deep disbelief--as if he just couldn't fathom the indignity to which they'd subject poor, innocent children. (Still laughing...silently...)

But wait, it gets worse. (That is, for him, anyway...I was totally enjoying myself...) He added that he happened to get paired with...the little girl he likes. (Pardon me for a moment: OH MY GOSH THAT'S SO CUTE!!--she screamed to herself...) "When we were supposed to hold hands, we sort of looked at each other and and went 'uh-uh' we just was soooo awkward!" Oh, the tricky whirlpool of a social dilemma....filled with perils like girl cooties, booby traps like clumsy classmates' feet to trip over, and hidden catastrophes like....moms with video cameras. Because the more he went on describing the scene--with one of his best friends actually falling over during a rehearsal...and related hijinks--the more determined I became to record this for posterity. It sounds like it's going to be absolutely precious...a priceless rite of passage...and quite a spectacle all at the same time. And really, at the end of the day, none of the intrepid pioneers ever perished from...square celebrate their successful journey-to-the-west. (Or from their mother posting evidence of same on Facebook...mwah hah hah!)

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