When it comes to being brave, I’m like Sir Robin on his quest for the Holy Grail. [Please tell me you’re aware of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. If you’re not familiar, then I’ve got a treat for you. If you are a fan, then I’ve also got a treat for you. This little video:]
But, seriously, I’m a chicken. Well, let me clarify: I’m a confident-in-herself, sassy and spunky kind of girl who doesn’t like to do daring activities. I am a fairly cautious kind of person. Wear my seatbelt? Yes. Look both ways before crossing? Of course. Run on the pool deck? No way. I follow safety warnings whenever and wherever they’re posted.
I’m as far from an adrenaline junky as a person can be. I understand “daredevil” as a vocabulary word and I know the definition, but I don’t in any way connect with that word any more than I understand headcheese. (It’s got nothing to do with your head. It’s not cheese. It’s just weird and defies all logical explanation. It isn’t meant to be understood.) But I digress. Back to me being a Gutless, Lily Livered Coward, right?
I don’t walk on grates or sewer covers on the sidewalk or street because they make me nervous. (In my defense, a grate gave way when I was standing on it when I was twelve years old which sent me dropping several feet. The good news: I didn’t fall all the way down the six-foot hole. The bad news: That’s because the grate jammed into my legs pinning me against the wall. Ouch.) Bridges put a knot in my stomach. Roller coasters are scary. Evil Knievel? Haa!! Nope, more like Scaredy Malaredy.
Of all the weeks I choose to participate in Finish the Sentence Friday, the prompt is “The bravest thing I’ve ever done is …” Well, I’ve got nothin’. (Because remember how I’m like Sir Robin??! Yeah, there’s that.)
So, rather than make up some really brave thing I didn’t do, I’d like to share a tale of the Girl’s bravery and courage from a potentially terrifying recent event: her first middle school dance.
She is twelve years old and in the seventh grade. What I like to call the Height of Pubescent Angst and Awkwardness. That harrowing In-Between Age of who-am-I? and where-do-I-fit-in? The time where establishing a social network is The Most Important Thing. It’s also the time of pimples, body odor, new hair growth, unexplained erections, unexpected periods, and mood swings. Oh Joy!
But I digress. Back to The Most Important Thing. Friends.
When I was in junior high (a minute or two ago), going to a dance was a group thing. At a minimum, it was a pairs thing. You found other people to go with. Strength In Numbers. Safety In The Pack. That way you would always have someone to talk to and there would never be a terrifying moment where you found yourself without The Most Important Thing.
The good (good?) news is that nothing has changed. Tween / Teen Angst is everything it used to be. Everywhere you look, tweenagers come in multiples or pairs. Double the hormones, double the fun. Wasn’t that the slogan for that gum? Yum. I wonder if they still sell it?
But I digress. Back to The Middle School Dance Herd Phenomenon.
A few weeks ago, the Girl had asked three of her friends if they wanted to all go to the dance together. They agreed that it sounded like fun. Yes! Let’s go to the dance together!! Yay! They planned to go as a group.
The week of the Big Event, the Girl excitedly mentioned something about it. That’s when she found out: they forgot they were supposed to go together and they’d all made plans with other people. They left the Girl out and on her own.
I believe that this is a point when it’s worth mentioning that we moved across two states just a year ago. At the Height of Pubescent Angst and Awkwardness, we packed up our lives and moved to a place where none of us knew a single person. It was heart-breaking and terribly hard on all of us, but especially the Girl and Boy. The Girl made a few friends last year, but found out near the end of the school year that almost all of the girls she thought were her friends were catty and mean. She handled that situation like a pro–shoulders back, standing tall, smile on her face, moving on. I couldn’t have been more proud of her, but what that meant was she didn’t really have The Most Important Thing during a pretty significantly angsty time.
That brings me back to this year and the part where the people she thought she was going to the dance with left her high and dry.
Some people–adults, teens, tweens, whatever–might have shriveled up right then. They’d have blinked away tears at the thought that they didn’t have Safety in Numbers. I would guess that a lot of tweens / teens would have been mad that their friends had abandoned them.
But not the Girl.
When she told me about it, she shrugged her shoulders, still standing tall and was just very matter-of-fact. I asked her what she was going to do. Without hesitation, she said she knew several people who were going and she would just go to the dance by herself. My twelve-year-old Girl would go to the middle school dance by herself–and find some friends when she got there.
Whoa!!! This Girl of mine has a set of stones!! She’s a sweet, kind-hearted, badass twelve-year-old!! A confident chick with chutzpah! Woot! Woot!!!!
I smiled and told her that was a great idea. Just go and have fun. Dance the night away. And in my head I was thinking You Go, Girl!!! Stand on your own two feet. Don’t compromise yourself or let your happiness be contingent upon anyone else. Do your thing. You freaking rock!!
On the night of the dance, I dropped her off in front of the school. She went into the building by herself to find some friends and have a fun time dancing. I sat there for a minute and thought about what a brave and cool kid she is. And I have a feeling that if she’s ever asked to write about the bravest thing she’s ever done, that middle school dance won’t even be a blip on the courageous radar … because if she’s got the rocks to go to a middle school dance by herself, I can only imagine what other gutsy, brave moves she’s got in her future.