I spend a lot of time around teenage girls.  It all stems from a mistake I made about nine years ago. When Kid 1 turned 4, I thought it would be nice to put her into dance classes.  A little ballet, a little tap, giver her a little grace and coordination (sadly lacking in our family). In return for 45 minutes a week spent in the basement of the rec center we’d get some cute pictures of our little darling in a cute, fluffy costume.  What was a year of our life?  But then the tactical mistakes began to snowball.  Kid 2 wanted to be in dance, I suggested trying out for Nutcracker one fall and it all went downhill from there. Which leads me to today when our innocent 45 minutes once a week has turned into 7 1/2 hours spread over 5 days and why I spend a lot of time around teenage girls. It allows me a lot of time for observation, a lot.

Recently we have had very cold weather around here. I mean the hoping the daytime highs get into the double digits and overnight lows dipping down into the -20’s with the windchill kind of cold weather.  And we aren’t used to that.  I being the slightly psychotic mom always made my kids bundle up before leaving the house.  They fought me, I threatened to not take them to dance, they relented, and off we went. Whether I was dropping the girls at the front door or expecting them to walk in from the parking lot it made no difference.  Somehow this didn’t apply to the girls whose parents dropped them off at the door and picking them up there.  I don’t care how short your distance to walk you still need at least some semblance of pants and a jacket.  Am I crazy or just old fashioned?

The girls who had to walk to their cars  knew well enough to put on a jacket.  Well, maybe it wasn’t always their decision but they had a jacket on! It seemed to be an age thing.  The younger kids wore jackets, had a parent with them, and walked in from the lot.  I even noticed one of these girls wearing her adorable little pink knit hat during class.  Now that’s a kid who’s ready to go out in the cold!

The mid teen girls got dropped at the door and wore nothing to keep them warm.  Their mothers (and I’m in this group) have largely gotten over the thrill of watching classes and no longer stick around.  Most are doing the ditch-and-run method of dance class management.  Some never even come in to see a class anymore.  There is a certain joy in this.  You enjoy the awe of how much they’ve advanced over the course of a year along with the rest of the audience at the yearly recital. It has a lot of appeal.

But then there are the older girls – who are driving themselves – and seemed to have relearned how to wear a jacket. It’s a true sign of maturity that they aren’t being told to wear a jacket, they’re not avoiding the weather by hopping from car to door – and back again a few hours later. They’re just wearing a jacket because they know it’s the right thing to do.

It gives me a lot of hope for my kids future. Only five, six, or maybe seven more years and I should see jackets being willingly put on and then I’ll know they’ve truly grown up. It’s all I’ve got to hold on to at this point. Nine years in and the kid still trips up steps.