23

06/08

Oh Our Youth

8:48 pm by Janelle. Filed under: News

Shaun and I were asked to chaperon a multi-stake dance last Saturday. We arrived early to help set up so we were there from start to finish. A perfect people-watching situation. I thought it would be somewhat funny to watch the kids interact, and many times it was, but wow, the memories came back. As the first few kids walked in one of the boys hobbled through the doors. He was quite severely physically handicapped. He made his way across the empty dance floor and my heart felt heavy. The friends who walked in with him soon left and he was standing, sort of dancing, alone by the stage. I don’t know what happened after the gym filled up but I hope that some of those teenagers had a heart and invited him to dance.

We were watching the doors by the drink table so we had the opportunity to see most of the kids. A taller, heavier-set girl dressed very plainly walked up to get a drink with two other flirty, giggly girls. After they walked away I noticed that the two bubbly girls were just talking and laughing with each other while slowly moving away from the other girl. It looked as if they were trying to help her “get the picture” and leave them alone. The taller girl just awkwardly followed with a smile that said, “I don’t know what you are talking about but I am glad that I have two friends to hang out with.” This broke my heart. I knew those people at our dances, and I am sure you all did too. I wanted to shake those girls and say, “Be her friend! It means more to her than you know!”

Then there were the cool kids. The ones whose ties didn’t match their shirt, which didn’t match their pants, which didn’t match anything else they had on…and some were wearing sunglasses…in a dark church, hmm… One kid took his tie off as soon as he walked through the doors. Shaun told him to put it back on, and he did. Later, he came to get a drink and his tie must have just slipped off at some point from all the crazy dancing…he realized his mistake and as he made eye contact with Shaun he slyly did a 180 and jetted toward the dance floor for the “mix-in-and-get-lost-in-the-crowd” getaway. After catching up with his friends he began to tell how he had escaped and just then Shaun put his hand on his shoulder and once again told him to put his tie on.

There was one boy I kept seeing and it always looked like he was headed somewhere, though I realized I only saw him headed toward the back of the gym and never back up front. I realized that he ENTIRE night, he circled the dance floor. Just walking, pretty fast, all by himself. Maybe he was trying to get exercise? Who knows…but we did notice that he asked a girl to dance every slow song. That’s better than most.

We realized many things that night. We are a little bit more out-of-the-loop than we had thought…the whole crowd sang the lyrics to many songs we had never heard and Shaun doesn’t quite have the Disney Channel hair going on.

Example:

I just saw so many people that night where I knew that person at our dances. The kids who were too cool, kind of nerdy, really nice, really shy, kind of creepy…and the list goes on and on. Though the times have changed the dynamics haven’t. Many of these kids care about so much about things that, when life comes to an end, won’t really matter! Don’t you want to shake them sometimes and tell them that the zit on their nose won’t effect them in the end? It’ll go away. Or that 10 years from now they won’t remember what they wore on that date? Or that hanging out with the socially akward guy sometimes, isn’t going to kill them… I know my parents tried to tell me but I never listened until I realized it myself. I am sure the same is true of these youth. They will realize it one day and then they will wish they had asked that handicapped kid to dance.

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