Note to my kids: Get ready I'm going to chaperone every high-school dance you attend.
My resolve actually preceded this week's Wall Street Journal article, "Freaked Out: Teens' Dance Moves Split a Texas Town." The front-page piece just reinforced it.
According to reporter Susan Warren, Karen Miller was a chaperone at a high-school dance in Argyle, Texas, a few years ago when she first saw couples doing the "freak dance." Meaning, a girl's backside is essentially backed up to a boy's pelvis, and they bump and grind to the beat of the music in a sexually provocative way.
Other adults around Miller seemed oblivious. Miller separated at least once such young couple. The result? Mayhem.
Yes, many parents side with her and the new superintendent of schools there, Jason Ceyanes, who, according to the Journal, is cracking down on "sexually suggestive dancing and skimpy clothing ..." in this growing and increasingly affluent Dallas suburb.
But another very active group of parents is ticked at him for "ruining" their children's recent homecoming "by making provocative dancing off-limits," says Warren. One angry mom complained that she spent $400 on her daughter's dress "only to have her leave the dance after a few minutes because it was such a dud," she writes.
No, I'm not making this up.
Angry parents are even unearthing dirt on the superintendent and calling him a hypocrite. (He's divorced, after an earlier marriage and fatherhood at 17. One might better argue that his voice of reason is also the voice of experience.)
But my decision to one day chaperone any dances my four kids are allowed to attend arose not from the Journal article, but from a dear friend telling me about her own recent experience chaperoning a high-school dance here in the Chicago suburbs. In recounting the sexually grinding moves of the kids, she said, "What I saw in the darkened gym was much more 'foreplay' than dancing."
Meanwhile, who knows high-school dances better than deejays?
Writes Warren: "The problem is so widespread at school dances that deejays are feeling the heat, too." They may try to change the pace of the music when they see the kids getting worked up, but "there's only so much a deejay can do," said one.
Back to Superintendent Ceyanes. He fears that allowing the kids to get sexually aroused at the dances could be dangerous to students. (I would add, especially girls.) Duh. That may be one reason many schools around the country have banned, or tried to ban, such dancing altogether.
If the "$400 dress girl" had been sexually assaulted in the parking lot after the festivities because the dance wasn't a "dud," would her mom be happy, or suing the school?
It consistently stuns me that some of the very same parents who will carefully protect little Junior and Junioress from every scrape and bump early on, who will trail them carefully to super-safe playgrounds and rarely leave them to play unattended even in their own back yards, will then abandon their children to real dangers, including sexual dangers, later on.
Why? Because they are proud of the public foreplay their children are engaging in? Because "sexiest child" is yet another competition for parents to engage in? Because they want their kids to "like" them?
Forget these reckless moms and dads. For those parents who want to act like parents, this information should be our bucket of cold water. Our response to our children's school dances could be, should be, a metaphor for how we raise them from the start: Find out what's going on, turn up the lights at all times and always be ready to protect them from themselves whether they like it (or us!) or not.