by Brian Clarey

There he stood, just a shade under 6 feet tall — a gap that should be reconciled by the end of the summer. He wore slim, black pants with a hip chain, a starched white shirt to the face, an old black suit jacket of mine that squared his shoulders perfectly, but tapered out too far to accommodate his slim frame.

My oldest son has the kind of body upon which clothes were made to hang, though he spends most of his time in drab SMOD school clothes or video-game wear. And I took giddy delight in suiting him up for the occasion of his 8th grade dance.

It was, I believe, my very first pageant-mom moment.

I got him a crisp shirt and swiped just a drop of product through his long hair. I was so excited I let him wear my bolo tie.

I wore a skinny, red-leather tie to my own 8th grade dance, almost exactly 30 years ago. A key difference between then and now: At this 8th grade dance, the opportunity for mischief is greatly minimized.

This thing started at 6:30 p.m. sharp, and if I wasn’t back by 8:30 for the pickup, I was made to understand, there would be serious consequences. Made me wonder if my permanent record was still floating around out there somewhere.

There would be no twerking, no grinding, no showing of 8th grade leg.

I thought these rules a little ridiculous until I pulled into the school lot and saw what passes for an 8th grader these days. My son is not the only one who could probably get into a bar.

My friends and I looked like little kids in the 8th grade, but already we were up to the kinds of things that now, as a parent, give me nightmares.

My son and his friends aren’t like that — or maybe they are, and they’re just a lot better at getting away with it than I was. But I don’t think so. Getting into trouble would require getting off the couch.

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