the anticipation was building on the car ride from our house to the school. for a full 2 minutes, we rocked out to tunes on the radio. aedan asked, "mom, is this the music playing at my dance right now?" he thought it was being piped straight from the school into our car.
dad had helped him get ready: jeans, patchwork blazer, sneaks, and paul fr@nk t-shirt with the words "happy to be a boy." we said, "just pick the t-shirt you feel most handsome in." and this one was his top pick.
i was his date for the evening. he put his wadded up $2 in his front pocket, grabbed a can of chickpeas off the pantry shelf (do homeless people eat chickpeas? well, we had to bring a can, and we were out of soup, so that's what we brought), and headed out the door.
as we pulled into the parking lot, i heard, "mom, there are already people here. we're late." my son, who is never on time for anything (i guess it starts early). the boy who takes 45 minutes to eat a pop-tart (an organic one, people, don't judge) in the morning before school. the boy who would rather torture his sister and risk the consequences than to get dressed so he can go outside to play.
as we approached the multipurpose room (remember those?), we could hear "the chicken dance" playing. (unluckily for me, it would play again just 20 minutes later.) my son paid our entrance fee, and we peeked through the dense red streamers covering the doorway.
"ok, we're here. go dance!" at that, he scooted up against my leg and shook his head slowly "no." this from the boy who talks to everyone (yes, i'm nervous about this...), who knows every person in his school (yes, even the 5th graders; how he does i have absolutely no idea), who has girls swooning over him and has no idea. the boy who is never afraid of anything.
but then, almost right away, another boy ran up and said, "let's go get a snack!" and he disappeared.
the people in charge had the (not so bright) idea of letting the kids walk up to a table and choose a snack. the choices were from two groups: (a) various bags of chips (none organic, in case you were wondering); and (b) various choices of sodas. yes, you heard me. sodas. now, to their credit (not really), there were non-caffeinated choices, like some sort of nasty-looking grape thing. of course, my son chose a coke.
now let's just stop for a second. giving my son, who is 5 and crazy without the caffeine, a coke is like giving an addict some crack. it just fuels the madness. i mean, really, could they not have at least bought caffeine-free? was this some kind of cruel joke on the part of the teachers? "hehe, i'll show THESE parents." and on a school night, no less.
so aedan brought his cheetos (gross!) and coke over to where i was sitting, already having chugged a good amount of the sweet fizzy stuff before sitting down with me, and promptly spilled it on his blazer. no worries: he didn't care and soon made me official cheeto-and-coke holder so he could resume running and playing with his friend. this, from the boy who HATES to be wet. he complains incessantly if his sleeves get wet when he washes his hands, can't stand to be touched by anyone whose hands are wet. i mean, he hates to feel damp and soggy. but coke on the sleeve at an elementary dance? who cares.
as i sat there, watching my son run circles around the mobs of children, some in play clothes and some dressed (disturbingly) as little adults, i observed the following: a brown, round, 7-year-old boy, in white t-shirt and sweat shorts and lace-up tennis shoes, getting his groove on in front of me. he was like the little dough boy. cute as a button. and someone had obviously been working with him on the dance moves. i mean, he was moving. then, suddenly, he stopped, kicked his foot out to the side, looked around to see if anyone was watching, and pulled out some...wait for it...BREATH SPRAY and gave himself about 10 shots of the stuff.
i almost fell off my chair laughing. glad the music was still blaring. my laughter was interrupted by a brief visit from my son and his friend (to grab a cheeto and a swig of that drug-laced syrup stuff, not to say hi to me, obviously). his friend, who had been running in opposite circles, informed him, "guess what? i just made a girl SCREAM!" and at that, they collapsed into giggles and were off again.
i think we stayed for about 27 minutes. that was all we both could handle. aedan looked like he was about to have a heart attack, or collapse--his face was completely red, and he was soaked with sweat. as we walked to the car, he said to me, "mom, i'm wild. i'm CRAZY. and i LOVE it!" yes, son, i know, and even though it drives me crazy myself, i love you dearly for it.
i have a sneaking suspicion we won't be attending any more dances until middle school at least. maybe next year we can go to the playground instead.
**i took my camera with me to the dance, but there is no way i could have captured the moments i describe here. so i left it in my bag and just observed. the picture at the top of the post is from a couple of months ago (aedan's hair is more grown out now and he has an emo sort of look...not on purpose but more because we are too cheap to take him for a haircut), and you can get a good look at his favorite shirt, the one he wore last night.