‘… So Just Dance, Dance, Dance’

I miss mornings when the only goal was for him to be on Zoom with a full belly and clean(ish) shirt by first period. I miss the soft openings, the overheard banter between the teachers, aides and students before getting down to business. I didn’t get much of my own work done during online school hours, but I did learn a lot.


We opted to send our child back to school last week, as did about half of San Diego Unified parents and guardians. This meant our middle school could offer on-site classes four mornings a week, versus the planned two. But it also meant half of all students have something still holding them back. Those that are on campus must sit farther apart and follow one-way foot-traffic flows and, of course, wear masks at all time. No water fountains work, but there are bottle-fill and hand sanitizer stations. Every single child is sent home at 12:30 with food for lunch, dinner and tomorrow’s breakfast. The online kids’ families line up in their cars for their food bags. If teachers know a family is struggling, they throw in extras. Some even do home drop-offs if no one in a household drives.


There are still online lessons on Fridays, and I am thrilled that the best part of the week—for me and my little guy, at least—has survived the hybrid model we’re now in. I’m talking about Friday Dance Party, where adaptive PE students from across the school district (the second largest in California) convene online for an hour of professional-DJ-led dancing. They dress up, they sing along, they make song requests and receive shout-outs. The live broadcast from Lincoln High School reaches into about a hundred homes of special needs students. I’m usually not around on Fridays due to another obligation, so when I am, I get excited to not-so-secretly watch the dance party and sneak photos and videos.


I’ve tried officially to join in and gotten a hard NO! It made me tear up, not from rejection but for the signal it sends: Our tween is growing up. The other week I tried to dance my way into the Macarena (“Hey, at least I was alive when this became a thing!”) and he told me to scoot out of the video frame before I embarrassed myself.


“Ok,” I told him, “but all bets are off if my favorite Justin Timberlake song comes on.”


Then his requested song started and we both went wild. That’s the thing about dancing: It loosens everything from stiff muscles to tension in a room. Most of us should dance more often. 


I’m placing those Friday moments of pure joy in that invisible memory drawer we all keep. These containers are way bigger and more used than the closets we stuff with things best forgotten. I gotta admit: My bureau is pretty full, despite the blank year we’ve all just lived through. 


Such bright spots cast a different glow these days. I now have room to do deep work again. I have a kid who’s enthusiastic rather than enervated entering each day. I have another grandson coming soon. Everything except my expensive spring bulbs is in bloom. The dog is finally over her diarrhea. I survived a delayed reaction to my second Covid shot. And my husband still works from home, so I continue to exercise outdoors early mornings. I, for one, couldn’t be happier.



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