First Dance

The global economy is in shambles, the presidency is in crisis, and Americans are struggling under the weight of a broken health care system. But hey, I've got my own problems. Our 12-year-old wants to go to a dance. With boys.

Forgive me if I tend to focus on personal experiences rather than commenting on important political and historical events. But I feel that the universal lessons are better drawn from one's own life, rather than, say, from public figures such as Trent Lott, who I think has plastic hair. (It never moves.)

Lately, the fundamental truth I've discovered is that when it comes to accepting the approaching adulthood of their children, most parents are clinically insane. Case in point:

The invitation to the middle-school party arrived via the U.S. Mail and, by law, we couldn't open it or discard it without our daughter's knowledge. Silly law.

We knew this day would come, but we felt that she still needed a couple more decades at home before beginning her social life outside our double-locked front door.

Our reasoning was as follows: She is a straight-A student, a disciplined athlete, and a warm, loving child. Naturally, once out of the house she would immediately take drugs, have sex, and join the Republican Party.

This is not about trust, we patiently explained to her as we declined to give our permission. It's about paranoia. Deep, creeping paranoia that parents get when a child reaches the teen-age years at the same time, coincidentally, that parents become quivering lunatics.

"Wouldn't you rather stay home and watch The Little Mermaid again?" I beseeched her, forgetting for the moment how odd I look when I beseech. But she wasn't interested.

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Sojourners Magazine January-February 1999
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