Last night was Fourth Grade Family Fun Night at our school. Bonus: It had a Western theme and involved square dancing. So obviously the stark. raving. mad. family. rocked the Western wear look. I mean, you know what they say: you can take the girl out of Texas, but you can't take the Texas out of the girl.
The thing about evening activities at school is that they are both awesome and horrifying. Awesome in that generally they're fun, educational, free, and build a sense of community. Horrifying in that it will inevitably trigger a panic attack and/or meltdown in at least one of my kids.
The thing is, you just never know which kid it's going to be. Sure, you can guess that it will be Little Dude. There's a good chance that a deafening, scratchy version of "Cotton-Eyed Joe" is going to trigger a freak-out. It's loud, there's lots of people, and they're all moving.
You might guess that it will be Cookie, who has serious trouble with anxiety. Maybe she'll panic that she won't be able to square dance as well as the other kids.
You might even guess that it will be the Pork Lo Maniac, crashing off her ADHD medication while simultaneously overloading on fruit punch.
No one ever suspects the Peanut Butter Kid. She's like the quiet ninja of panic attacks. While her older sisters joined in the square dancing (thank you, Texas education), and I held Little Dude above the fray, the Peanut Butter Kid went from clapping along to sobbing in the space of 60 seconds.
When I asked her what was wrong, she responded, "I just don't want to be here with all these people any more."
Ah. Turns out a swirling mass of people do-si-do-ing through the gym triggers panic attacks in the Peanut Butter Kid.
We stood outside in the rain for a while, and then finally went back in, me still holding Little Dude, and the Peanut Butter Kid clinging to my side. We sat down in the far corner.
The Peanut Butter Kid's best friend in the whole world, the one she couldn't wait to return to, came over to us. She assessed the PBK's watery eyes and trembling mouth, and broke out into the goofiest, most awesome dance moves ever, until the PBK laughed. Before I knew it, the PBK and Little Dude were both dancing with her.
Not in with the mass of people, and not doing the square dance moves being called. Just having fun, dancing.
A six-year-old made everything better, in the space of 60 seconds. This little girl, genuinely one of the kindest people I know, took my breath away with her ability to make things not just better, but awesome.