the beautiful awkwardness..

I sit here typing in hopes that I could magically recount everything that I heard and saw and felt the night my son went to his first middle school dance.

I know the reality, though. I know the experts say we remember less than a tenth of our lives, and I recently read that we actually remember .0137% so either way the odds aren’t good for me. What I do still retain from the event that’s only 24 hours old in my memory lies in vignettes of my son’s outfit and killer new shoes, his date’s darling new green dress and white converse, their “beautiful awkwardness” (as my mother-in-law so adequately described), and the in-between.

Driving him into the city to go pick up his date, Micah was chatty. I could tell he was embodying the persona of a nervous “first date” adolescent by the way he sat – rigid like an old man with a bad back. But as we got further into the drive he switched back into little boy mode. He wanted to know my favorite super hero and for us to talk about the virtues of the really good ones. (He is torn between Captain America and Spiderman because he empathizes with Peter Parker.. but he’s still gonna have to go for Captain America, if push comes to shove).

We pulled up to the house where his date was waiting, her grandma’s house, and saw her standing in the front yard with her younger brother playing on the sidelines, pretending not to care. I think about normal first dates, when grown ups go out, and realize we lose or hide this – the innocence of being so excited to see someone we will hang out in our front yard with a big goofy smile, just to see them pull up. It was darling and childlike and everything it was supposed to be when he saw her waiting there.

They were shy at first, they almost couldn’t look at each other. They were both blushing and trying to see who would say something first. I don’t think either one of them has ever seen the other when they weren’t dressed in a school uniform, covered with dirt from the playground. I snapped a picture (or ten), exchanged a few words with her grandma, and we were off.

Micah opened the door for her . . the van door. He and his brothers had cleaned out all the trash and toys earlier that day so it would be the perfect date-mobile (Such a young man). I got into the drivers seat to realize they were both in the seats behind me – the captains chairs – and Tom and Jerry was playing on the DVD player. They talked and giggled and instantly were kids again


“I love this one!” 

“yeah, I know, like, how does a mouse even get away with that?”

 “I KNOW! that’s what I’m always telling my brother”

Then the conversation would take a sudden turn to,

“I absolutely love lettuce. I mean, lettuce is like my favorite food.”

“It’s like, when you don’t want something sweet, but you want something that’s liquidy.

“Yeah, it’s so easy to eat… it’s my favorite green vegetable.”

then switch back to,

“You know it’s untrue that dogs and cats hate each other?”

“Yeah, because my aunt has a cat and a dog and they love each other but then they hate my dog!”

They talked about their friends, about miniature golfing, about the black light that will be at the dance, about a book she’s writing that she sent to his email (he hasn’t check it yet). Sometimes he responded, with a simple “yeah..” or “that’s cool.” I was surprised to hear him trying. My son, my baby son, my micah man whose nick name used to be “Tooty” was being aloof, he was playing it cool with a girl and being a stud.

And then, it happened.

If she hadn’t broken the ice already, this should do the trick..

“So last night I was watching Twister with my family and eating pizza (Twister’s like really good and it’s really bad) and I was drinking soda and at the part after the first tornado I was like, ‘I feel bad..’ and so I went upstairs and was like.. I threw up out of my nose!”


I thought that might be more “third date material” but hey, to each their own!

I picked up another friend of theirs and took them to a little burger joint. Everyone had cheeseburgers and milkshakes and talked about kids in their grade and some of the drama that might go down at the dance. I sat and listened and fought the urge to move one of the kids milkshakes from a precarious place so he didn’t knock it over with his elbow. I didn’t, and he moved it himself after a few minutes.  A table full of girls from their class came in for dinner and the boys snuck off to sneak up on the girls and scare them. I almost told Micah not to. I don’t know why, except it was so not like the Micah I know. But he was both that night – he was the Micah I know and he was this other, independent, out with his friends, not afraid of anything Micah I am just beginning to meet. They talked with each other and over each other. They laughed and they gossiped and they got brain freezes. It was so childish and the first time I’d seen them being un-childlike.

We picked up another friend and I dropped them all at the school. Two and a half hours later, I showed back up to take my boy home. I ran into Kate’s mom just outside and we talked and laughed a bit at all of it. She said, “you should see them… it’s hilarious. They’re actually dancing!” She was right. The dance was legit.. the school gym was pitch black except for some multi-colored laser lights and the aforementioned black lights. The music was loud and the bass was dropped. I peeked in and saw him first.. Micah man, in the center of the crowd, dancing next to his date as if he owned that dance floor. And yet, there was my baby, shorter than a lot of the kids who have already hit their first pre-teen growth spurts, smiling like a fool, and trying to decide how close he should stand to this girl who has been his best friend and fellow “Nerd War” buddy for the past few years. The girl he now has a crush on.

He’s not a little kid anymore. But he’s also not a man. He’s in between. And, while I used to think this awkward phase was just about the cruelest thing God could ever force humans to go through, last night changed my mind on that. For now, for him and his friends, in between is right where they are supposed to be. I won’t remember all the other things they talked about or the way I felt about it all, but I hope I always remember and appreciate the beautiful awkwardness, the in between.

everyone was right.

it goes so. fast.

Happy Mother’s Day.

xo, ash


show hide 5 comments

hootenannie Micah makes my heart burst with sprinkles. Thank you so much for this window into that night… even if he might kill you when he finds the post. 🙂May 13, 2016 – 6:36 pm

amy i have tears in my eyes and now in my coffee too. this was a beautiful read & story & recounting. i love you.May 13, 2016 – 7:48 am

Kelly Hi Ash, Just wanted to say I’m following along. Your stories make me smile. Keep writing. You’re a writer. 🙂May 9, 2016 – 2:19 pm

Kristin Also, you are so lovely and that photo of you and the boys is perfect. It does go so fast.May 9, 2016 – 2:17 pm

Kristin amazing. everything about this.May 9, 2016 – 2:14 pm

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