My 12-year-old son Ben told me that he was not going to go to his school cotillion. He was already mad that his school had used his last two months of PE class to teach them the cha-cha and the swing.
I learned that some of the dances would have assigned partners, but there would also be a half hour for the kids to choose their dancing partners. “Ben,” I said. “Are you going to ask any girls to dance?”
“I want you to ask five girls to dance.”
“I’m not going to.”
“Yes you are.”
“I’m going to ground you for a week.”
I knew that was too mean. “I will throw a party for you and any of your friends that ask five girls to dance.” He still protested. I could not believe how scared he was.
On Saturday, the day of the dance, I saw Ben’s friend at a church activity and asked him if he would be willing to dance with five girls if I threw them a party the next week.
“Yeah!” he said. Ben was astonished that his friend agreed so quickly. Thank goodness for the influence of friends.
I was elated when I arrived at the dance and several of the boys rushed me telling me that they had already asked girls to dance. I said I had to see it to believe it. To my astonishment, several of these boys went right up to girls and asked them. Also to my surprise, they did not just jump around, but they actually did the 2 step or waltz.
Ben was very proud of himself. All the girls had accepted his invitation to dance. When we drove home together, I congratulated him on his courage. He said, “Me and Brian started the whole thing! None one was dancing until we started asking girls to dance.” Ben had just conquered a huge fear.
I once attended a class on anxiety, and the teacher taught that the only way to conquer a fear is to face your fears. She then pulled out an anaconda out of her bag and invited someone in the class to face their snake fear and wrap the snake around them. I did not volunteer!
I was also really grateful for this dance program and the cotillion that the school hosted. So many boys aren’t taught social skills or how to treat girls. I was glad to see how all the boys were dressed up in suits and ties, how they asked the girls to dance, and how kindly they treated them. I know so many of us moms are afraid our boys will get involved with girls too soon, but at the same time, they still need to learn decent manners around girls.
There was also a Jane Austen moment at the dance that made me cry. One girl couldn’t find her partner for her performance, and she started to panic. One of the more popular boys jumped right up and said, “I’ll dance with you.” I’m not kidding. I really cried because I saw a real life Mr. Knightly. In case you don’t believe me, here he is.