i distinctly remember how it felt, the feeling of being in between. you were just old enough for new things, especially at church. you had graduated from primary (the children’s sunday school) and could now be in young mens or young womens. but with that feeling of accomplishment came the reality that you really weren’t quite big enough yet.
until you were 14 you missed out on the church dances… and when you’re 12, 14 seems f-o-r-e-v-e-r away. the age restriction is even more glaring when you have older siblings or older friends or even older cousins…
every summer growing up we spent pioneer day with aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins in st. johns arizona. the tanner property expanded from the small two story house where my grandpa grew up… to a remodeled home able to sleep several families under its roof. with the growing family came two fancy mobile homes. there were also peach trees, a rose garden, irrigation ditches, pic-nic tables, tractors, a hammock, an old record player, a big doll house and old children’s books with our parents’ juvenile signatures.
the days were filled with craft time and hikes. the evenings we tried to blend in with the town, participating in all the pioneer day festivities… except for one – not everyone could attend – the youth dance. while everyone had fun on the family dance night… it was every little cousin’s heart’s desire to go to the youth dance. it didn’t matter that being city kids we couldn’t line dance. we didn’t even particularly like country music.
being the 9th and 10th cousins you’d think we would have been old enough… but it was the classic case of being in between… we were bigger then the baby cousins, but not quite big enough to get dressed up and have our dads drive us to the dance. amanda and i would beg and beg. we’d watch the gate open and the bigger cousins drive away. we’d pout for a while, anxiously awaiting their return so we could hear all about the dance.
when our year came, things were different somehow. the bigger cousins who we’d envied so many years before suddenly thought they were “too big” for the dance. we were now big enough but we were caught in cousin limbo.
this week some of my young women were caught in the same limbo. it was youth conference… another church activity with a 14 year old cut off age. i rallied the 12 and 13 year old troops but only ended up with two girls. the three of us headed to Valley Lanes… (i had checked earlier in the day if the bowling alley was busy on wednesday nights and if i needed to reserve a lane… the high schooler behind the counter looked at me bewildered… unless it was country cosmic bowling, i don’t think they are ever that busy!)
lizzfriz, the gibbsta and robin hood bowled some amazingly bad games that night… but we rewarded ourselves with this week’s flavor at kline’s. as we sat outside licking our orange creamscicle cones the girls were really happy… and aside from my incredibly sore thumb we all had had a great time.