My writing has been sporadic over the last month because of licensing exams, but here’s some of the things that have happened (with my colorful commentary)

Dances

I’m primarily over the Deacons, however many of the younger teachers we have (probably 5-6 of them) were in Deacons with me, and thus, we’ve kept our ties up.  As a matter of fact, the boys still come in after Sunday meetings to see if I brought food, still sit near me during Priesthood opening exercises, friend-request and chat with me on Facebook, and generally give me a good-natured hard time about everything.  On February 13th, one of the wards in our stake sponsored a dance, and invited the stake to attend.  After much finagling and the loss of my sports privileges to American Idol, I convinced my wife to go up with me and we had our first experience chaperoning a dance, something I’d wanted to do for a while.


I should probably save it for another post, but dances were the catalyst just about every experience while I was in the youth program.  When the youth program started falling, dances were one of the first places you could see a definite effect.  I personally have wanted to chaperon for a while to see how the dances are, how the turnouts are, and what the opinions of the youth were.

Ashley (my wife) was bored.  Of course, I did the manly thing and danced with her, but she didn’t get the same enjoyment I did out of it.  I, however, was in heaven.  I was able to not only relive my experiences, but see it through a different lens.  I’ve tried explaining to not only Ashley, but my younger brother about what our program USED to be, and it seems as though it’s foreign, or falls on deaf ears.  I also love seeing the seeds of a strong youth program being sewn.
Not only do I revel in teenage angst and awkwardness, but there is something to be said for a bunch of teens trying to dance in a somewhat honorable, modest and respectful way while associating with the opposite gender.  It’s like passing a car accident on the highway.  You don’t want to turn and look, but the curiosity finally gets the best of you.  Awkward, uncomfortable, bunglesome, clunky, those are all words I would use to describe the boys.  Girls, on the other hand, have a sense of rythmn, are flirtatious and bubbly, and chatty.  The juxtaposition makes me laugh every time.

There was a decent turnout.  According to the boys, two of whom we drove home, they’ve seen better dances.  They’ve had bigger turnouts, and probably the most important thing to them, more girls.  However, after filling up on Taco Bell (and introducing them to the wonders of Journey, Foreigner, and Boston), they changed their tune.

Here’s some of my random observations at the dance:

Music. They’ve done a much better job than I remember of music.  From talking to all the youth, the youth committee is now in charge of it all, including approving it.  We had lots of fights about the music back in my day, but with the diversity of music that is out there (and now just about everyone has an iPod and has a song collection, instead of the old school days of bringing your entire 96-CD collection and hoping to get them all back at the end of the night) it’s much better.  No objections from me, I commend the decision.

Awkwardness. Ashley got asked to dance.  She was sitting next to me the entire night, dancing with me, and a boy came up to her and asked her if she wanted to dance.  She looked at me, and I basically pushed her up out of her seat (and answered for her).  As they dance, they decided to have a conversation:
Ashley: “How old are you?”
Boy: “I’m a sophomore, but next year I’ll be a junior.  What class are you in school?”
Ashley: “Um….I’ve graduated college.”
Boy: “Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh….uhhhhhhhhhh….”
Needless to say the conversation didn’t meet his expectations after that point, but I couldn’t stop laughing.  She’s actually really embarrased about the situation, but I would take it as a compliment!

Cell Phones. I’m not an old fuddy duddy.  I text.  Quite frequently.  However, I’m not one of the statistics of sending close to 80 texts per day, or 2,272 per month.  I wasn’t suprised at how many teenagers have cell phones.  I think I only have one Deacon that doesn’t have a cell phone (and thus, texting capabilities).  But cell phones (and texting) have become a defense mechanism for teens.  I don’t want to get into a discussion on “Cell phones are destroying today’s generation,” because I don’t want to age 30 years overnight.  However, they’ve become a crutch.  Teenagers, as part of their age, can’t stand being uncomfortable.  Standing alone is uncomfortable.  Putting yourself out there is uncomfortable.  How many times have you viewed teenagers as checking their phones while standing around?  They don’t know how to control their uncomfortableness.  But by confronting the uncomfortableness, they are better prepared for life.  I guess it’s one of those things that we are all going to have to accept.

The stake has another dance scheduled for April as a pre-prom dance.  They’ve asked the YM leaders to talk with the youth about proper etiquette and treating dates with respect, so it seems like they’re going to make it a big deal.  My experience shows that works, if the leaders take it seriously.

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