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How to Slow Dance. . .

And other things I wasn’t prepared to have my daughter learn until she turned thirty.

Once again I am forced to feel my age. My daughter, Comet Jr., just entered high school. I think I need one of those necklaces with the button on it that alerts 9-1-1, because I’m fairly certain I will be having a heart attack at any moment. I was able to survive her officially becoming a teenager last year, but knowing she is now a freshman makes my heart beat like the bass in those newfangled dubstep songs. Oh dear Lord I just typed “newfangled”… I am old!!

My daughter has been in high school for three weeks now, which was just long enough for me to finally get over the shock. As of a few days ago, I have a whole new reason to freak out. My daughter texted me to say this: “He said yes!” When I realized she was referring to the fact that she asked a boy to homecoming it only took two of my coworkers to get me back into my chair and smack me into consciousness again. I was in disbelief.

Comet Jr. is not the dancing, ask-a-boy-out, care-about-what-typical-girls care-about, kind of girl. She would rather draw, or work on one of novels she is writing, or play video games. She wears motorcycle boots and video game shirts. She plays first-person shooter games and laughs when she makes hundreds of head shots in a row. In fact, at first she showed no interest in the homecoming dance because a game she reserved a copy of, gets released the Tuesday before the dance, and she wanted to play it the following Saturday – the day of dance. Well, all this changed when she saw a boy in gym class wearing the same Atari shirt she has. I guess you could say it was love, ahem, I mean LIKE at first byte.

It was like overnight she went from thinking boys were icky to liking one enough to ask him to a dance! Not just any dance- it’s the freaking homecoming dance!! I didn’t think she would even consider going to that dance until she was at the very least a junior in high school. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for her that she is branching out and starting a new chapter in her life; I just don’t want it to be a chapter that leads to one of those dirty books. I don’t need the “Fifty Shades of my Daughter’s School Colors” being played out.

I was a very late bloomer; I didn’t have my first date until the summer after my senior year, and my first kiss came when I was in college. No, I don’t expect my daughter to be the same way, but I just don’t know how young is too young for these milestones. I’m being supportive, yet giving boundaries. I don’t want her to have a “boyfriend”, but I’m okay if she wants me to take her and a boy to play laser tag, or if she invites a boy over to our living room to play video games.

So I took her dress and shoe shopping. I watched her try to walk in high heels for the first time (I’m getting a little teary-eyed just thinking about that part). My boot/Converse wearing little girl insisted on getting heels. As we were walking through the store she started having second thoughts about going to homecoming at all, stating she wasn’t even going to dance. Well, probably not slow dance because she didn’t know how. The conversation I had in my head at this point went something like this:

Here’s my chance to tell her to forget the whole thing and stay home. But she must really like this boy to get up enough nerve to ask him to go. She found a dress she loves and she is going to the trouble and embarrassment of stumbling down the aisle in heels. Just be supportive, don’t push her in either direction. Just be supportive.

I stopped the inner conversation and told her not to worry, and if she did want to slow dance, it’s easy. I faced her and put my hands on her shoulders. “There.” I said, “That’s all you have to do, well that, and rock from one foot to the other.” She seemed surprised and then had a whole new worry… The boy is taller than her! I just smiled and said, “It’s okay, I’m sure you will figure it out.”

The next step after the dress was making a mum. Mums were not something we did at my school on the East Coast, but it’s a huge tradition in this state. I took Comet Jr. to the mum section at our local craft store and told her to pick out what she wanted. She looked completely disinterested; she wasn’t amused even the tiniest bit. Then came the cold feet again. She told me she wasn’t sure she wanted a mum or even wanted to still go to the dance. All of the mum stuff was “too girly” for her liking. I told her a mum just shows her school spirit the day of the homecoming game, and she could personalize it to her liking. We wondered around the rest of the store and found components that she did like. So she now has a mum with chains, black crow feathers, and die-cut metal strips. That’s my girl!

In a few days this dance will be over. All of the nervousness and anticipation will be washed away by the events of the evening. Comet Jr. is going to love it or hate it, but I will just make sure I capture how beautiful she looks with tons of pictures. I will make sure I don’t overdo it with the pictures in front of her peers because “That wouldn’t be cool.” I will supply her with enough snack money so she can buy drinks from the concession stand rather than drink the punch that her friends told her will be most definitely be spiked. I will await any possible phone calls from her stating she is miserable and needs to be picked up right away. But most of all, I will just be there for her. She can wear boots or heels, jeans or dresses, she can shoot zombies in the head or slow dance with a tall boy, but I will always love my little girl.

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