Last night, while Scott and I were in the kitchen cleaning up after dinner, the phone rang. We let it go to the machine, because we recognized the number as the one L.'s school uses when the principal makes a "robo call" announcing events and special notices, etc. At the end of a long message about fundraising goals, the principal mentioned that this year's first middle school dance would be held on Friday. Scott and I looked at each other, with a mixture of amusement and worry, mixed in with assurance that, of course, L. would never want to go. Before we could say anything, L. piped up from the office:
"Oh yeah, the first dance is this Friday."
"Huh," I said. "Do you want to go?"
"I can't go!"
"Because I'm not going with a girl," he said, in a tone that implied that we, his parents, were very, very simple.
"I should think NOT," I couldn't stop myself from saying. Going with a girl? Do 11-year olds even go with girls? Do they go with anyone?
"Well, would you like to go?" Scott asked, and I held my breath hoping, I admit, that the answer would be no.
But instead, L. said casually that yes, he might like to go--for a few minutes, perhaps, just to see what it was like. My heart felt fluttery at this--I wasn't sure whether to be happy, or filled with misgivings. Later, I asked Scott if we were wrong in telling him he could go if he wanted to, even for a few minutes. These are unchartered waters for us--all of this. What goes on at a middle school dance, anyway? Would he be safe? Would he be exposed to a murky side of middle school life if he dd go? Would we be irresponsible if we let him go? How many chaperones would be there. Wait--there would be chaperones, right?
Chance are that L. will soon remember that a new episode of Star Wars: Clone Wars airs this Friday at 8:00 and he'll decide to stay home. I am fighting the urge to point this out (and being good about it so far), but it's not easy. The nest is warm and safe and that drop from it into those waters, so very, very far.