Monday, February 16, 2015

Father-Daughter Zobmondo

An email message from the school district dated January 23 laid out the next month's fun-filled school calendar:

Jan 26 -- PTA Meeting - Special guest speaker and NFL quarterback Jay Cutler reveals how he struggles with NFL defenses when he can't manage 2 (two!) kids at the same time without flipping his lid. Just get Mom home stat. AMIRITE ladies? Who am I kidding. I probably sent a few texts like that back in the day.

The silhouettes know what they're doing here.
Feb 4 -- Student Led Conferences. These are not your kids' fathers' parent/teacher conferences, the ones that were not only NOT led by you, but where the teacher and your parent representative made you sit in the hall while they discussed you like a science project. These days the kids LEAD the more sitting out in the hall, for better or worse.

Feb 12 -- No school. It may snow. We're just calling it now.

Feb 13 -- 100th Day of School/Show and Tell - Bring 100 of your favorite things to show your classmates, and be prepared to share 3 fun facts about each of these 100 things. Given class sizes these days, there will be no fewer than 2,500 things in class that day and 7,500 facts. Bonus points to the kid who brings 100 bouncy balls.

Feb 20 -- Father or Other Significant Male/Daughter Dance

I have met scores of teachers from all grades-- kindergarten through graduate level college-- encompassing well over 1,000 years of classroom experience. I talk to some of these people weekly. One of them, I speak with daily. They have studied behavioral patterns of children of all ages and have taught adults how to recognize these patterns in children. Some have written books on the subject. Nobody has EVER clearly articulated to me why we celebrate the 100th day of school.

If you feel strongly enough about eradicating this pointless day from schools, start a religion, call yourselves the 100th Day Adventists, and 100th Day would be gone from our schools tomorrow. Teachers could still mark the occasion but would have to name it something antiseptic like "Frost Fest," "Random Day in February," or, in keeping with Common Core "(50+20+10+1+1+1+1+1+(115-100)) Then Write a Paragraph About It Day."

But it's the last item on the calendar that has me wondering. I really thought by the time we were old enough for one of these, that the Father/Daughter dance would have slid out of style, yet here we are. These things have proven such successful fundraisers precious moments that dads spend with their best girls, the trend has only picked up momentum, so much so that schools are now trying to double down with mother/son dances with mixed results. This, even though 4 of 5 parents report that their girls run off with their friends the minute they enter the building.

I'm not sure about this. Never mind that if I had thought of this and invited school-age girls to my own house, I'd be labeled a sex offender. How exactly are we dads supposed to act at one of these? Would you rather dance like an idiot in front of your kid's friends and faculty or go sit in a corner and make small talk with strange men? 

Both dancing and small talk are the introvert's kryptonite. So who knows? You're equally likely to see my patented Gangnam-Style Corn Cob Stuck Up My Ass Shuffle as you are seeing me in the corner talking about sports, or cars, or sports cars, as you are seeing me in the corner by myself looking at my watch 8 minutes in. Though I hear there's pizza :-)

This sounds an awful lot like a date. I've forgotten how to date. It's been almost 20 years since that happened, and if form holds, I'll be nervous enough to show up a half hour late with an empty gas tank, then forgetting to put the car in reverse in her driveway, or spill marinara all down the front of me at dinner. I hear there's pizza. :-(

The dress code is semi-formal. Like semi-sweet chocolate chips that are still plenty sweet enough, semi-formal is still PLENTY formal. A tie? Come on. I've worn a tie ten times in the last seven years.

Word on the street is that some dads show up in limos...I had no intention in turning this into the Prom, but if that's the case, I can go find my 1991 Toyota Corolla with no power steering and a back seat that can't accommodate today's standard-code car seats. Or we just show up in a minivan. 

I try to gauge my daughter's interest in the event. She has shown less than zero interest so far in attending Take Your Child to Work Day in April, so maybe this has gone off the radar, too. No. She squeals with glee and performs a series of cheerleader-y jumping scissor kicks. So there's little chance she'll forget. 

The follow-up question, then, is "how do these things work?"

"There are two slow dances and the rest is freestyle." Somehow she knows this even though she's never been to one; she has connected friends. Freestyle reminds me of a swimming pool though, so maybe I can pull off a few hold-your-nose-shimmy-down-to-the-ground-with-one-finger-in-the-air moves. Not sure I can sustain that for two hours without an on-site ambulance. 

"So we need to practice slow dancing." 

That's the least of our worries. I'd go for two hours of slow dancing if it wouldn't lend a funeral's atmosphere to the proceedings. But when I tell her I'm feeling kinda nervous about the whole thing, she plays her trump card:

"You can make new friends."

Sigh. We'll see. The introvert's go-to move is not exactly making friends. All I need to do is make small talk or dance like nobody's watching. Hoping nobody is watching.