When not lighting up the internet with political commentary, I’m mostly just Dad. Which is fine by me.
But it does lead me into some strange places.
Last night, for example, I spent mostly in the boys’ locker room down at Mighty Clever Guy Middle School. For those of you wondering, no – middle school boys have not changed at all since I was one of them. They are a galumphing mix of barely-controlled limbs, fart jokes, and hormones, and they all need a shower. But they’re pleasant enough when you talk to them.
It was Rec Nite down at MCGMS – one of the monthly parties that the school has for its students. I like the idea of Rec Nites, and like anything else worthwhile it doesn’t happen on its own. They need volunteers.
They needed volunteers to staff the several tables where moderately lethal teenager-style food was being sold, most of which food (including the pizza, I think) was heavily caffeinated. They needed volunteers to monitor the lunchroom, which had been emptied of tables and filled with solid waves of sound emanating from the DJ’s speakers. Embedded in those soundwaves like raisins in an oatmeal cookie were clots of tweens, some of them dancing, others just sort of hanging out, all of them growing cooler and more deaf by the minute. They were fun to watch. They needed volunteers to keep an eye on the gym, which was full of basketballs being flung about with the casual abandon of people who have never sprained anything yet, and still others watched the pool.
And in the hallways was a flying squadron of parents. That’s where I came in.
Tabitha wanted to go, so I volunteered to be a chaperone. We arrived early, and I checked in. For this Tabitha got in free, though she had to go back outside and come in with the rest of the kids when the door opened. Meanwhile I was assigned to a cheerful guy named Gerry who was a veteran of these things and – in the best tradition of cop movies throughout history – took me under his wing and showed the New Guy the ropes.
“Keep them moving along,” he told me. “Don’t let them congregate. Look in the dark corners – some of them are old enough to have figured out what those are for. Food stays over here, not over there. Make sure they don’t run. And let them be kids.”
That last bit I interpreted to mean that a certain amount of idiocy was tolerable so long as it didn’t get out of hand, and that pretty much sums up my philosophy toward most things anyway.
Gerry and I split the locker room duty. He took the first shift (“Make sure they don’t open the back door and let their friends in free, and watch that they turn off the showers”) while I was on walkabout, strolling the hallways and generally keeping the peace. I said “Walk!” a lot. Eventually we switched.
Tabitha disappeared into the pool right off the bat, and I saw her only a couple of times. This was as it should be.
On the one hand, it was a whole lot of kids in a very small, very loud place and I basically never got a chance to sit down. On the other hand, having spent some time in the lunchroom being bombarded by the DJ’s selections, I now know what a “gangnam” is, which means I am marginally less uncool. Or “gangnam” is marginally more uncool. Or both.
We made it home in one piece and promptly fell into our respective beds. It was a good night.