9 Lessons I Learned Chaperoning a Middle School Dance

by Stacy Graebner
Originally Published: 
1. If you were to rank awkward situations, middle school dances would rank third, behind OBGYN exams and funeral viewings.

When you think about it, all three have a lot in common. There is very little eye contact, nobody knows what to say, and you can’t wait to get the heck out of there.

2. The hoodie is alive and well and appears to be the most versatile item of clothing known to man.

As every single boy at the dance could tell you, this garment seamlessly transitions from school attire, to football jersey, to semi-formal wear, to winter coat, and then to sleepwear. I also learned that a hoodie can double as a whip. And a Kleenex. And a sponge.

3. By 7th grade, you can identify a future frat boy a mile away.

These guys are so easy to spot: they are loud, goofy, surrounded by a posse of groupies and filled with brilliant ideas, most of which involve food, bodily fluids, trespassing and/or some excuse to run around shirtless.

4. Skimpy is the new black.

Apparently, many middle school girls have embraced their grandmothers’ advice: “It’s never too early to start dressing like you’re in a Nicki Minaj video.” On the other hand, some girls were wearing cute, age-appropriate dresses. In fact, the broad range of girls’ fashion made the scene extremely surreal, kind of like if the Duggars attended a party at the Playboy mansion.

5. The fruit platter is dead by middle school, friends.

So after all those years of politically correct elementary school parties with strawberries and raisins shaped like bunnies and snowmen, nutritious snacks are immediately abandoned in middle school. In fact, I’m pretty sure party planning meetings go something like this:

“Remember how we used to serve healthy snacks at all those elementary school parties?”

“Yeah, that was kind of annoying.”

“I know. Do you want to just serve Mountain Dew and Skittles?”


Done. Sorry kids. Yes, we cared about your health six months ago, but frankly, that was exhausting. Go grab an Oreo. Or six.

6. There is no dancing at a middle school dance.

I saw a lot of movement at this middle school party, none of which could be classified as “dancing.” There was aimless walking around, mosh pit slamming, running, jumping, and occasionally, twerking. Interestingly, while middle schoolers seem uncomfortable talking to each other, they obviously have no problem awkwardly flailing around near each other. Hmmmm… kind of sounds like marriage. I guess it’s never too early to start those dysfunctional relationships.

7. 40-something moms and pre-teens are soulmates.

I came away from the dance wondering why moms and middle schoolers are always at odds. Perhaps it’s not that we have nothing in common, but that we have everything in common. When you think about it, we’re both in an awkward transitional stage. As the brilliant Britney Spears once said, a pre-teen is “not a girl, not yet a woman.” Well, isn’t the same true for moms? Aren’t we trapped in that “not a hipster, not yet a Meemaw” phase of life? And just like teens, we are moody, we often look like we just got out of bed, we feel like nobody listens to us, and we are prone to rolling our eyes. Bingo.

8. Never underestimate the creativity of a 12-year-old boy.

Towards the end of the party, there was a lot of excitement around the boys’ bathroom, followed by this announcement: “There’s a poop on the floor!” Let me tell you, no matter how much chaperone training you’ve had, nothing prepares you for those words. Astonishingly, the mystery pooper managed to pull this off without his identity being revealed. He just landed the plane and then disappeared. After experiencing this phenomenon firsthand, you realize there is not a more definitive way to clear out a party than this.

9. The future is bright.

And by bright, I mean bright orange, as in Cheetos orange. Most of which is stuck in braces. Which are now accented with neon colored wires. There is also ample head-to-toe neon apparel being worn (thank you, Nike) to the point where human highlighters are at every turn, just waiting to highlight the world on fire. It’s a beautiful thing.

I looked around the room and tried to imagine who was most likely to emerge as a future leader. Would it be the Mountain Dew-chugging boy, dazzling his pals with underarm flatulence? The Selena Gomez lookalike doing the Electric Slide? The future Sigma Chi rallying his friends to slide down the hall in their socks? Hard to tell, but my money is on the phantom pooper.

This post originally appeared on BluntMoms.

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