I’m not sure how it happened, but tonight I found myself chaperoning a junior high dance party. And probably enjoying the dance more than I did when I was actually in junior high. Even though everyone there called me “hey babysitter! watch this!”

Like I wrote about last time, I’ve been nannying for this family. The oldest boy, Jordan, had volunteered his house (read: stressed his mom out for days) to hold an end of the school year party. Pizza, pool, Capri Suns, fifty sixth graders. Standard afternoon for me, really.

I was supposed to take Blake (nine year old special needs kid, who today, to everything I suggested, said “oooh good call, Rachel!” so cute.) out for the afternoon so he wouldn’t get in the way of the party prep, or monopolize his brother’s attention. Or the dancefloor, as he later did.

So I took Blake to Super Franks, this really cool place out in Pleasanton run by some Christian families who went to Chuckie Cheese one afternoon and said “this is the creepiest place ever and its probably run by old men who drive vans with no windows and really like the ball pit” and decided to open their own warehouse full of clean, wholesome fun. Blake and I ate a ton of pizza, I let him make a “sewage” soda (mixing all the flavors) and we played twenty dollars worth of skeeball and Mariokart for some tickets. Say…whats up with the crap prizes at these places? You spend twenty bucks on coins to play games to come away with a whoopie cushion or one of those plastic frogs that NEVER jump when you flick them?? What gives?

We get back to the house, where I thought I was just dropping Blake off, and I suddenly find myself bombarded with the smell of Axe, dad’s Old Spice, BO, and untamed hormones. And Jordan is dragging me back to the rec room, where parents were not allowed. It was easily 85 degrees inside, 100 percent humidity, and packed with shy, awkward, not very cute at that age middle school kids. The girls were on one side, the boys were on the other side, music was blaring. And I was being introduced as “the worlds coolest babysitter!” Which at first I thought was really cute, until all the kids just called me “Hey babysitter!” and didn’t even bother to learn my name. Yeah…after four hours, that gets old.

So I guess Jordan had been telling everyone that as soon as his cool babysitter got there, she could get the party started dancing. However, I had thought I was just coming to take care of Blake, who had been battling some bathroom issues, and I knew I would be chasing all over. So I was all glasses on the face, frizzy hair, Fleetwood Mac concert tshirt and yoga pants glory. And looking at a room full of 12 year olds going “……I think someone in Florida just got arrested for what this kid is asking me to do…” I mean, how do you dance with 12 year olds? Where do you put your hands? WHERE DO YOU PUT YOUR HANDS?!

But Jordan was so eager and the kids so tiny and cute, I eventually lost myself over to the power of “Kiss Me Thru Da Phone” and, hands held oh so high, did some white people two-stepping around that floor. And soon the boys circles and the girls circles started getting closer together. And the funny thing was, even after ten something years, junior high hasn’t really changed. You can tell all the stereotypes of the kids right away. I could have pointed out the dorky girls who don’t wear makeup or brush their hair and dance and sing along and dont care, and the short boys who dance like a seizure and do “tricks” like donkey kicks and the worm and are all sweaty (one actually passed out upstairs for about a minute. scaaary) and the “hot” girls who clearly have older sisters helping them out, that all the boys, who are still a good eight inches shorter, want to dance with. There is always a girl reading a book in the corner. Always the emo kid too cool for school with his followers around him. It was classic. And stinky and humid and sweaty. But when all of a sudden you find yourself breakdance fighting to “Stronger” with a nine year old special needs kid….life can’t get more hilarious than that.

The real point, obviously, were the slow songs that came on intermittently, when the junior high girls would let the junior high boys touch them for three and a half minutes. The “couples” would flock together, the crushes would shyly walk up to the cute girls and I don’t even think words were exchanged, but they would stand, fingertips resting on his shoulder, barely brushing her waist, and just sway back and forth. A few couples I had to walk up to and say “leave room for the Holy Spirit, he’s at least two feet wide” (I was only joking, but you should have seen those faces!) but mostly I was just suggesting to people that they at least pick up their feet and move in a circle. These kids are total amateurs. It was awesome. Later in the night they detailed the scientific definition of “freak dancing,” something I haven’t thought about in like 13 years. So funny.

Besides the wonderful flashback, and the chance to thank God that I never have to relive ages 11-14, it was also a really fun night to hang out with the kind of kids I will be a teacher for next year! And to be called “the worlds coolest babysitter,” and to start a mini dance party, and to run out to the various parents and say “oh my gosh Chris is dancing with this girl who is a full FOOT taller than him come Loooooook!!!” and eat goldfish crackers and drink cherry pepsi and act like boys have cooties.
Life is good man. Life is good.