Well, another big milestone for Cameron, and me, and everyone else who loves him, that includes my Mom; she cried a little when I told her about the dance Wednesday night. She loves him so much.
If you saw my Facebook post from Tuesday about Cameron going to his first dance, the Winter Formal, at the Gray (Senior High, Grade 10), you know that he was going alone and was a little nervous about who he would know and who he would dance with. He talked about how life was different now, now that he had left Birchwood Intermediate and his best friend Jacob. Birchwood, where he was loved and where he loved everyone! Well, if the kids of Colonel Gray wanted to give Cameron an amazing “Welcome to the Gray!”, last night was it.
Here is how it went…
I arrive with Cameron, we pull up out front, it’s cold outside, the ground is icy and snow covered, we look down the walk to the front door of the school and I can see that there are already kids in the small enclosure between the first set of doors and the second and I say to Cameron, “Let’s wait in the car, the door doesn’t open for ten minutes.” He looks back at me, “Don’t you want to meet my friends Mom?” “Well, yes, I guess so Cam, but I don’t really want to stand in that small enclosure for ten minutes.,” He looks at me glumly, like I’m a bad mom, and says, “So. You…(pausing) DON’T want to meet my friends.” He continues to give me that look and I say, “Well, maybe we will wait here for five minutes (I’m thinking, I am too tired for this, to stand in there)…” but, his expression doesn’t change, there’s a small movement of his head though, that small tilt of the chin one makes, just a little lower, when you want to give someone that disappointed look out from the top of your eyes…so, I say, “Sure, fine, let’s go meet your friends.”
We proceed up the walk, as other kids run past us, boys strolling slowly, confidently, girl running in pretty dresses and sparkly shoes, somewhat messed up now from the snow. We get to the door and enter the small, crowded enclosure, where kids, clearly not his friends, just look at us, and we look back at them. They’re not mean or rude, they just don’t know Cameron, they have this “we’re on this elevator ride together, but it goes no further than that” look.
So we stand there, like on an elevator. Then, I notice the inner door to get into the school is open, there’s my escape, so I slip in and leave Cameron behind, he said they were his friends, but they’re not mine, each person for themselves. Soon, though, I turn around and see his face squished up against the glass like, “Well, are you going to let me in too?” So, I do, I let him in.
We find our way to the coat check room where Cameron announces, “I’m herrreeee!” to four boys and two girls standing behind a table discussing what the coat check ticket process tonight will be.
The four boys are standing there, staring at us, they don’t seem to have been waiting for Cameron, they are not impressed, but that doesn’t bother him. I think the “I’m heeeere” was more for himself than anyone else. Confidence. Check.
He checks his coat, and one of the girls says, “Hi Cameron!” That was nice. More kids then start to come in, well-dressed, handsome young men and women, pretty dresses, sweet shoes. I want to say, “I love your shoes!” in a high-pitched voice I might have used at 15, and like I actually use regularly now, when I see anything that I like — who’s fooling who. So I do. I’m a 15 year old girl in this much “older” body, let’s leave it at that.
Moving on…we find Tim Keizer. Tim is the police officer who works at the school, he is also my little brother from another mother, we had texted earlier in the day and he had promised to look out for Cameron. That made me feel good, just to know someone was there that Cameron could “hang with” or talk to, if needed. You know, if he felt a little uncool, awkward, or shy.
Tim is at the front door with Dale Johnson, another police officer and old friend, we hang out there, Dale, Tim, Cam and me. Kids arrive, we talk, “Did we look like this in high school?” “Were we ever this small?” “Are you leaving now?” Cam asks.
Leave?! Seriously? I so want to stay, but know I have to leave. Besides the fact that I am nursing a cold, it would be weird for Cam to have me follow him around all night, or lurk him from a corner, although I do consider it, picture myself doing it, and, it doesn’t seem weird to me.
As I leave, he hugs me a long, sweet, warm hug from my little boy, some girls notice and their look tells me they think this is sweet. Then, I walk away and I wave back at him and he gives me the “Whatever Mom, can’t believe you are waving at me” wave. Not my little boy.
I feel kind of lonely out here on the cold, empty walk up to the school. No one here but me, all the kids inside and him, my boy. I can see him laughing with Tim, he has already forgotten me.
So I leave and contemplate going home, but then realize I need extension cords, short ones for our Christmas window candles that can’t quite reach the outlets and I think the Dollar Store might have some. Distraction.
A few minutes later and there I find myself, aimlessly wandering through the aisles, like I don’t want to go home. Oh, yes, aluminum foil, I can use some of that and $1.25 a roll I take 10. I use a lot of tinfoil. Life is busy and I hardly ever get to the Dollar Store. My reasoning.
Then rice noodles, the Dollar Store has rice noodles AND they are marked gluten free! Gotta get us some of those. And hand soap, big bottles of hand soap, $2! Wow, and so, some tinfoil, noodles, soap, pepper, cream of mushroom soup, tea lights, extension cords and ‘mashed potatoes in a box’ later, I find myself in the Betty Crocker aisle, at the Dollar Store! Cookie sheets, nice, shiny, new, smooth cookie… Then my phone rings, it’s Tim. It’s only been about 20 minutes.
Damn it, I think, what did I give Cameron for supper? Is he sick? Having an “off” stomach perhaps? Dance nerves + Celiac disease can lead to that, but no, it’s nothing like that.
“Catherine, I just wanted to let you know that Cameron is doing great.” Tim says, and continues, “Grace (Tim’s daughter) took him to the cafeteria and he has been dancing ever since, moving from one group of kids to the other, he is in his element and having a ball.” I am SO happy. “Thank you Tim,” I tell him. “You have made my night, REALLY made my night.” So, then, I decide it’s time to head home, with all my purchases, but no cookie sheets. I’m wising up.
When I arrive home, Jamie reports that Aislinn, her best friend (we love Aislinn), has texted, Cameron is having a blast break dancing.
Then a little later Tim calls me again. “Catherine, one of the basketball players just went up on stage and took the mic from the DJ, he said, ‘Before this dance ends, we have to send a shout out to the dancer of the night, Cameron Gordon!’” Oh my God, I am sitting on my couch, practically in tears. Are you kidding me?!
Anyone who knows me knows, I always have positive hopes for Cameron, but each time an event in his life transpires like this, it is just overwhelming. I can see him now, dancing there, hearing the cheers, in his element, like a “real teenager” he will say.
Thank you to all the kids at the Gray who made Cam’s night. Thank you to Tim, Dale, Steve Brazil and all the other staff too. What a wonderful pleasure it is to be Cameron’s Mom, to have my heart swell every day when he touches so many people with his honest, beautiful, positive spirit.
And, thanks to my Facebook friends, who wished Cameron well, and to the parents who reported back to me on the night via their kids, my “flies on the wall.”
What a blessed life we have, I am grinning from ear to ear as I type this, as it storms outside my window. Life is good, life is very good.