I am not a great dancer. I might not even be good. I’m certainly not good like, say, Dennis Norfleet:
Norfleet is a slot receiver/third-down back/kick- and punt-returner for Michigan. You put him on a field in front of 100,000 people, and he’s going to dance. It doesn’t matter if Michigan’s winning or losing or if he’s having a big game. He’s irrepressible.
Friday night, Veronica and I went to the wedding of one of her co-workers. It was full of good food, good company, and great tunes to dance to, courtesy of a DJ who got everyone on the floor. I love to dance at weddings. Dancing is funny. If you’re like me, it’s a subject that causes much angst in your teens and twenties. You worry about how you look out there, exposed. You worry what other people think of you. And then you hit a certain age and you just stop caring about any of that, because you realize that dancing is fun.
We had a lot of fun Friday night, as much because of the texts we received as the wedding. The texts were from our sitter, and from our friend, who was hosting a party for her middle-school age kids. Both Riley and Ryan were there, Ryan only after much objection. But once there, he was “right in the mix” with his peers. He had a great time — he even told us so.
Then on Saturday, both kids had a friend over, and the four of them actually played soccer together without any fights breaking out — a minor miracle. Ryan had gone skating (to make up for missing the Friday night session) where he bumped into one of his hockey teammates, who asked if he could come over to our house. That it was a spontaneous occurrence made it even better.
Sunday Ryan had another friend over, and they played hockey, played video games and watched football together.
Other bits of goodness that matter in our house: The NHL season is underway. The Sharks are 2-0. The Devils are 2-0. The Capitals shut out the Bruins on Saturday.
And then there was Michigan, and the aforementioned Mr. Norfleet. The Wolverines managed to put a little water on their Dumpster fire of a season with a narrow win over Penn State. After all the controversy and losing in recent weeks, it was great to see the players and students celebrating under the lights at Michigan Stadium.
Some players didn’t wait for the postgame to celebrate. Players like Dennis Norfleet. He just does. not. care. what you think of him, he’s going to dance anyway. He even requested the stadium PA play one of his favorite songs, “Atomic Dog” by George Clinton. The song blared any time Norfleet lined up to field a punt or a kick. This was the result, and it’s a pretty good metaphor for how I feel about this weekend’s developments:
I have two middle school-aged children. They’re of the age where most kids worry a lot about what other people think of them. And it’s not lost on me that Ryan, because of the way his brain is wired, probably cares a heck of a lot less than most kids. Still, navigating social situations is tricky, and it’s trickier still if you’re worried about always making a misstep in front of your peers. Those fears tend to fade over the years, as they have for me.
Clearly it didn’t take Dennis Norfleet until his 30s to stop caring what people think of his dance moves. I wish I had that confidence at his age. I certainly hope my kids will.