Sunday, September 8, 2013

Another Big Step for Big Brother

Last week we celebrated another big step in my oldest son’s progress. He bravely asked a cute girl to the 7th grade school dance.

I know this may seem small and insignificant, even expected for his age, but for me it was a huge step forward. There was a time when we weren’t sure our son would make it to 16, let only embrace the opportunities that lay before him, but there he was, as nervous as can be, finding the courage to risk rejection. He said it took him a whole hour and a half to muster up the courage, but at the end of the school day he asked her, “Will you go to the dance with me?” and she said, “Sure.”

After school that day he delivered the news with a smile spread ear-to-ear, proclaiming, “I had a great day and asked a girl to the dance!”

Yes, my jaw dropped open!

On Friday evening he showered and put on his best outfit, and Dad gave him a talk about how to treat a girl properly, including his responsibility to buy her a treat and soda at the dance. Then we dropped him off at the front of the school.

I have to admit, as I watched him walk away, looking ahead for his “date”, my eyes filled with tears of joy, I tried to embrace the moment and feel every ounce of its weight. I felt nervous for the experience he was walking into. Would he feel comfortable? Would he get sensory overload with the flashing lights and loud music? Would he fit in? But more than anything I felt the warmth of pride fill my heart. There was my boy, walking into the unknown because he chose to. He was putting past rejection behind him and letting go of social encounters that have gone bad and was choosing to experience what life had to offer for a boy in 7th grade. He was doing what I once never imagined... he was thriving.

After the dance he came home filled with excitement. He had the time of his life, but regretfully noted, “I tried to buy my date a treat and soda, but she said that she couldn’t have it since her mom doesn’t allow her to eat candy or drink sodas.”

Ahh... the simplicity of 7th grade dates, if only they can remain this young a little while longer.