Saturday, January 29, 2011

I'm Glad She Danced

This is a re-publish. I noticed a lot of bloggers are re-posting some of their older posts and I had thought about that for awhile. This one came to mind because Middlest wanted to use the quote involved for her senior quote in the yearbook and wasn't allowed to. Which is a shame because it would have been perfect. Some things have changed since I told the story but the sentiment remains the same!

This post was originally published in January 2010.

In her sophomore year, which was her 1st at the local high school Middlest began reading a book called Heavy Metal and You by Chris Krovatin. She was enjoying the book about a guy who is in to heavy metal but falls in love with a "preppy" girl, and on page 22 she found the following lines that really spoke to her because of something that happened at her school. It was his response to the girl agreeing to go on a date with him.

"Do you know what I did there? Do you? Well? 
  You're Damn Right I Danced!"

She loved it and declared it was her new favorite quote!

I was still trying to get past the decisions she had made the previous year. This girl is so intelligent and a really beautiful girl. I'm not saying that because I'm her Mom, it's true. I don't know where she came from. But the fact is she is odd and socially awkward. They began using the words "marches to the beat of her own drummer" in pre-school. Yesterday she came in to me with all of her hair hid in a beanie, wearing a big shirt, jeans and converse and asked if I would mind if she walked around the neighborhood dressed as a guy. She has done this before. She has a terrific figure so I think it amuses her to be so opposite and also to fool people. All of our girls seem to enjoy getting a reaction from the neighbors, which include families with girls the same age who began to shun them in elementary school. This may have been due to Biggest but wasn't fair to the younger ones. Anyway, I didn't say anything when she put leaves in her hair and a palm frond on her jeans and skipped around the front yard saying she was a pony or found her reciting/singing the entire musical Rent in the backyard at 10 PM. I don't really mind but I felt like saying no. I'm not fond of most of my neighbors, the ones I am fond of accept us as we are, (yeah, the weird people), but sometimes I just long to be normal and not the Mom everyone seems to pity or give strange looks .

Sending Middlest to a school for the Arts worked out well through middle school. In most cases the kids were more likely to accept each other as individuals and quirks are an asset. When we discussed her leaving Middlest told me, "Mom, I was the biggest weirdo in a school full of weirdos'."

When she bombed her 1st year in the Arts high school I couldn't believe it. She may have been burnt out. It had been 4 years of getting up at 5AM and not getting home till 4:30 PM and a grueling workload. Also the school was for intensive training in one area. She wanted to write but wanted to paint as well and didn't like the competitive atmosphere. She was in a contradiction. She didn't like the pressure of having to be special and at the same time it is hard to get credit for being special while surrounded by other special people. She gets more confirmation of her talents in the local high school. She told me she just wanted to be a regular kid for awhile.

I can get that. Regular. You mean you want to dress cute and talk about clothes and makeup. You want to join some fun clubs and go to football games. Normal. OK!

It didn't work out that way. Though I warned her that a regular high school was a whole different world than what she was accustomed to and that she needed to concentrate on her studies while slowly familiarizing herself with this new social system, I watched in dismay as she quickly wandered from the group her one "normal " friend introduced her to and into the Goonies. ( I'm not picking on them. They embrace this title.) That's the schools name for them. They are the kids who are most accepting of differences. The problem is that some of them tend to give confirmation to each other that succeeding and having goals is not important. Most share a certain level of immaturity. The underachievers. The bad attitudes. Kids who are dealing with real problems in their homes and are acting out. And good kids who just enjoy behaving oddly because they think it "bothers" the more conventional kids. I have told mine, "maybe they are stuck up but they really do just think there is something wrong with you, so what are you accomplishing?" Sensing the danger and watching her grades begin to fall, I asked her to please keep her options open and try not to identify herself with just one group until she had been at the school for awhile. And to remember her future, she is too bright to mess up her academics.

A short time later she became excited because she met a new boy. A regular one. Involved with sports, etc.

I was a happy for her to be learning how to just be a teenager and not be stuck in a group the whole school looked down on. A couple weeks later on a rainy day I picked her up and she was totally drenched. Soaked thru.

"What on earth happened to you?" I asked.

"I was dancing in the courtyard while it was pouring down. It was great! Everyone was watching from the windows and pointing, some were taking pictures with their phones. It was so fun!"

I felt some dread."Were you hanging out with that bunch again?"

"No, I was by myself."

As the realization of social suicide soaked me like a rainstorm I actually felt my stomach fall like I was on one of those swinging ship rides, they make me sick. Or like an axe swinging.

This is my dilemma. I love how imaginative and individual my kids are. I have fostered that. When I am with them I am delighted by their freedom of expression and refusal to stay in the box and conform. At the same time it hurts to see people who don't get it look down on them. To see them labeled and hurt by others who can't accept someone who won't follow what they feel is the "right" way to act. And I admit that I am sometimes hurt by other parents attitudes towards me because of my children. That judgment. Especially from the ones who really don't know anything about us at all. And though I hate to say it there are times I have felt embarrassed by my children. It might go something like this:

"Hi, I haven't seen you in awhile, not since the kids were in gifted class/softball/scouts together. My Kid is starring on the soccer team, on the honor roll at the college prep, and getting scholarship offers already in Sophomore year. How's Yours?"

"Umm. Oh Great! She flunked out of her Art School, joined a club called the Rock A Holics and is dating a boy who thinks he's a vampire! Yeah, we are moving right along."

So as I thought it through, what should my reaction be? Should I tell her, That "Normal Boy" would never call again. (He didn't, what a jerk). Why would you do something to call so much attention to yourself? (It will be on YouTube before the end of the day.)**it wasn't.  People are going to talk about you. (They do anyway)

When Littlest is whining about listening to my music in the car, I change it to the the disco station, turn it up really loud, open the windows, and when we come to a red light, dance in my seat. My mother used to tap dance and sing WW2 songs in the kitchen while cooking dinner. And I may be mistaken but I bet a particular brother of mine is not immune to public antics either.

So....In the end what did I really think about this....? What attitude should I take toward her free spirit?

Do you know what I thought next?

Do you? .....Well?.....

You're Damn Right She Danced!

© 2010 All Rights Reserved

Quote excerpted from:
Heavy Metal and You
Christopher Krovatin
Copyright 2005 Scholastic/Push


  1. Love this post. You have me thinking a lot. We are a family of free spirits and I go back and forth on the repercussions of that each and every day. Admiring the amazing creativity, but mourning the lack of acceptance and isolation. What is hard to remember is that high school does not last forever. That a whole world opens up after it is over and hopefully Middlest will find her way. She sounds amazing. I admire her ability to not care what others think. I wish I had more of that.

  2. Oh, so beautiful and honest. You're so right -- for all the inspirational 'just be yourself' slogans, sometimes it's hard not to be mainstream. How perfectly splendid of you to admit that and still let them be freaks if they want to. I admire her too -- I never felt like I fit in in high school, but I never had the courage to really 'be myself'. But I would find it difficult to have a daughter like that too (I still might, I should say). No easy answers. But you rock.

  3. I hope she keeps on dancing! This is beautiful.

  4. Repeat or not, I still love this!

  5. Have to say I reposted two weeks ago too. But for some its a way to figure out how you got to where you are.

  6. Be proud. You are raising extremely confident children. I have one who is self-assured and "different". And I have one who would hang off my leg till he was 39 if I let him and is obsessed with propriety. I tend to prefer the weird one. I think you "marching to the beat of her own drum" daughter sounds fantastic.

  7. oooh! i love re-runs when i've missed the start of a good series!

    i am thinking i was lucky to grow up in the country where the jocks were also the nerds and the goofballs and the popular kids. i was sort of allowed to be all those things and still be the girl that danced by herself in the rain. said it before and i'll say it again... she's just destined for better things than high school.

  8. AE: Me too. I've become better at it over the ars : )

    Bibliomama: I was a little out there myself but learned self preservation by my later teens. I tried to make their early years as conventional as possible in an attempt to ward off social pain. But,they just are what they are. ok by me ; )

    Rottenmom: Thanks, I suspect she will : )

    Peryl: Thanks, I know judgement drives you nuts too !

    Susan: Thanks, Especially for being one of the 3 people who read it the first time : )

    Mrs. Tuna: Exactly! 3 people read this last time, but honestly it just proves I've been stressing about this kid on my blog for a year and 3 months ; )

    Sandra: I am : ) I vent a little here for the frustrating parts but I think she is an incredibly awesome young person!

    Elissa: That's kind of how her old school was. Our local school, is well, local and very conformist. I went there too. She's dealing with the kids of the same people I went to school with. They haven't changed !

  9. I'm still dance in the rain.
    And "Normal Boy" did text back. Once every three months. I continually laugh at his foolishness.
    No one wants to be normal.

  10. Yes, once he graduated he did try again. I admire the way you handle that. It is quite amusing : )

    P.S. Either; "You still dance in the rain," or are "still dancing in the rain". I thought you were my literate child ; )

  11. Our oldest is an out of the box child. And I love it! Although children are often misunderstood, they are the true leaders. It takes a confident child to be able to express them self in the midst of ridicule. Love this post its so good to look back on when we first began blogging & see how far our families have come.

  12. Nicole: I wouldn't trade them for anything! I like to fuss but they know it too. And look, after all my worries she's made it to, and half thru, 12th grade!

  13. What a lovely post. I'm tearing up a bit, because I see my son becoming like that & he's only 4 (almost 5). It's a daily struggle - do I let him walk to the beat of his own drum or try to make him conform. I think the former is better, and I've always been a little "off" myself, but you're right, it's the way they're perceived by others that can sometimes hurt.

  14. I loved this! And I think I love Middlest. And therefore, I love you!

  15. I love your daughters and how you love, not just with acceptance, but with pride. Lovely post.

  16. Pamela: It is a balance. One that's not always easy to keep. I try to take it on a moment by moment basis : )

    Amanda: Hi There! Mid is mess and so am I so we need all the love we can get !

    The Sweetest: Thank you. Sometimes it can be hard to always have a spin on things but we really do have a lot of fun : )


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