This weekend was my daughter’s high school homecoming. My daughter Emily is 16 and a junior. She attended with a group of friends and they all looked great and had a great time.
But it was a great night that almost never happened.
Last week, I kept asking Emily why she didn’t want to go to the dance. I felt sad for her because she has only one more year of school and I didn’t want her to miss out on a fun high school evening. But I was sad when she finally told me why she didn’t want to go. She said it was because it is uncomfortable and “gross” because all the kids “grind” on each other when dancing…Definition: the boys and their female dates “grind” i.e. he is behind her and their bodies fit into each other and … you can imagine the rest.
I don’t live in a bubble and anyone who knows me knows I am not a prude, but I really liked hearing her say that sort of dancing was offensive. It showed me that she has a strong sense of self and self-respect. She knows how she ought to be treated by a boy. She knows how she wants to present herself to others. It told me that she has a great self image. I told her I was happy to hear that she felt that way. I said it’s sad, but truth is that those girls who present themselves like that with a boy, may very well be good girls, but others who see her behaving like that will make judgments and make her the next hot topic of the high school rumor mill. And the boy, well he’ll get off scott-free, such is the land of high school.
But, eventually I convinced her to go to the dance and she went with a group of friends and she looked so pretty, elegant and lady-like. She had a great time and the next day said, although there were couples “grinding” she was happy she went.
But wait, there is more.
The morning of the dance, in the Chicago Tribune my super cool reporter friend Lisa Black wrote a story about local high schools banning dirty dancing or “grinding”. I could not believe the story I was reading was about the very issue I had just been dealing with!
It talked about how schools are considering passing policies to police dance floors at school dances. One school sent letters home to families saying how they would be monitoring the dance floor and if students were caught “grinding” they would get one warning then the next instance be asked to leave the dance.
So Lisa went on to write about this 16-year-old boy at one high school who was just so offended by such a school policy that he was trying to find a place to hold a separate homecoming dance where kids could dance how ever they wanted to.
His mother was so proud of him saying it was so wonderful that he was standing up for a cause.
OK after I spit out my coffee all over myself, I began shaking. Are you kidding me? Are there no other causes to take up? Bullying? Domestic violence in high school dating relationships? Raising money for new books, sports equipment, childhood cancers?
Let me be clear, I do not think the school should make such policies. It is so reminiscent of Dirty Dancing and Footloose, no I do not agree that is the direction to take this issue.
What needs to happen is parents need to talk to their children about self-respect and dignity. We need to talk about in what light we want to present ourselves. We need to have on-going conversations with our daughters about how to present themselves with dignity and morals. We need to also teach our boys how to respect and treat girls. It all starts in the home. We do not need another policy set down upon us from any sort of institution.
I so wondered how this boy’s mom would respond if she had a 16-year-old daughter and some 16-year-old hormonal boy was fighting to have a dance where he could “grind” without penalty.