Friday, November 18, 2011

Party Rock Anthem

It's 8:59pm when I enter the side door to the school. I am immediately hit with the sounds of preteen commotion. "Hi, he is probably in the small gym." One of the moms working to door motions to me. I pass kids playing video games, two playing ping pong and make a right past the cafeteria. Kids are rushing by in all directions as I pass through the double doors and stop when I feel the vibration of base emanating from small gym. All of a sudden the music stops and all you hear are kids shouting and roaring. I press up against the wall and wait as the kids pour our into the corridor. Through the sea of six graders I spot my son, red faced and sweaty, and he spots me. He acknowledges my existence and I motion that I will be by the exit doors when he is ready. 

It's the "Fall into Middle School" dance tonight and its a whos who of six graders attending. I gave my son three rules to follow, have fun, be respectful of yourself, other kids and the adults; and finally, have fun. 

After a few minutes, my son breaks out of the crowd. "I'm ready to go." he says to me. We push through the doors, leaving the hot rotunda and entering the cold dark night. "AAH, that feels good!" my son says. On the way home my son fills me in on the event, a lot of dancing and hanging with friends consumed most of the evening. "I'm thirsty, clubbing is tiring.." He says. 

This is only the beginning...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Walking and Talking

"Why don't you ride with the other walkers?" The team leader says to my son at the meet up location. After a little coaxing my son replies "Ok..." He exits the back seat of our car and enters the white mini van filled with the other walkers, all girls.

The Westchester Walk for the Cure is a 5K walk supporting the research and care for breast cancer and my son and classmates are representing his school in the walk. 

The three car caravan pulls into the massive corporate park parking lot next to Manhattanville College, the gathering area and the start of the walk. Our group consists of a teacher/team leader, eight kids and three parents. We check in, get our pink stickers and stop by the hospitality tents. Some of the kids head off to purchase t-shirts while others grab a drink and food.

"Alright everyone, we need to stay in small groups so everyone pick a partner of group to stay with..." The team leader instructs. I was nervous for my son, who is the only boy in the group but immediately one girl and my son announce they would pair up. This girl and my son are friends and apparently have been chatting it up the whole car ride up. They are the perfect fit, my son is a patient listener and this girl is a marathon talker! 

We decide to work our way towards the front so when it is time to start we are not trampled by the thousands of walkers. As soon as we got to the very front the horn blew and the walkers was off. The group loosely spread out, three girls in front to the left, three other girls falling behind in the middle, and the pair consisting of my son and the girl chatting, laughing and having a ball. "Let's catch up to them..." she would say and they would run through the crowd to meet up with another group. Sometimes the groups would reform, two girls pair off and one joins my son's group or sometimes they would all catch each other and walk as a full group. All the time gossiping, chatting, laughing having a great time. At times they forgot they were in a walk and slow to a stroll, not realizing there was about four thousand people behind them. One guy jokingly chirped "Hey kids, pay attention, you are slowing up the walk and I want to finish before dinner!" It startled the kids a bit and got a laugh from the walkers, but it was all in good fun.

During the last mile the group is spread thin, my wife and I losing sight of our son and his friend and but we knew he was ok, the girl was on top of things and my son was enjoying the day. When we cross the finish line, my son and the girl run up to us. "We were the first to finish!" They say in unison, excited and proud of their accomplishment. The rest of the group finally cross the line, tired but also proud to walk for a good cause. 

We make our way back to the cars, all the kids sharing their walk experiences and laugh about the guy who hollered at them. "Are you going to go with your parents or drive back with us?" The team leader asks? "I will ride back with you." My son responds. He gets back into the white minivan, my wife and I get in our car, and the caravan of three pulls out and drives home. New friends, lasting memories and a worthy cause, not bad for a Sunday morning...

for more information about Making Strides against Breast Cancer:

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