See? I told you it would happen.....
So The Dancer's senior prom was on Saturday and can I just tell you - proms are not what they used to be. Thankfully, the dresses that look as if they were stolen from the set of Gone with the Wind are no longer in vogue. That's a good thing. The hair is smaller and the tuxedos are much more understated and attractive.
I'm also guessing that no one is dancing to Duran Duran's Hungry Like a Wolf or waiting with bated breath for the final song Stairway to Heaven so that they could hold their date a little closer.
Ah - sweet memories. (Okay - I cop to it. We may have been looking forward to that long, slow dance for public close contact, but the real action was happening in the backs of Chevelles and pick up trucks and family station wagons parked down dark lanes by the river. That was our "after prom.")
However, the professional hairstyles, full blown glamour, limousines, hand held bouquets, and on and on and on are rather over the top and fall into that category of things that serve mostly to part parents from their money and to create a false sense of entitlement to high style in our kids.
And yeah, we totally fall for it every time. Back in my day when we walked ten miles in the snow uphill, both ways, to school, our parents were happy to point out that we weren't anything special. In fact, I remember being told that explicitly. "Hey, who do you think you are?" adults would ask if you got too full of yourself. As parents, we do quite the opposite. We're all about the special. The self-esteem. The reward and praise. The kids in these photos probably have more trophies for simply joining a team that the collective of commenters here ever earned.
Wait - did I want The Dancer's prom post to turn into a rant about the way we parent? Well, it was not my initial goal. But there it is. I'm glad she went. I'm happy that she is beautiful and bright and happy (well, actually, she'll be much happier when this last year of the International Baccalaureate program is over). I'm glad she wore that dress for a second time after we spent more than I wished to spend for it when she was in her school's Homecoming Court last autumn.
But, honestly, I hope the parenting pendulum swings back some. I mean, we don't have to go back to a time when we used the word smart as a put-down (smart alec, smarty pants, oooooh look who's so smart), but the setting of realistic expectations for what's acceptable materialistically would be a good thing. I mean, the bar is set so high now for these kids who've received a trophy for everything, who've never lived in a world where the rich and famous weren't celebrated, who have been raised in a rushed world full of opportunities for instant gratification and who have been promised that anyone can have the good life (read: palace, hot car, fabulous travel) as long as they could be approved for credit.
I'm generalizing, of course. Even our spoiled children have heard their share of "no" and "we can't afford that" and "you don't need it." I guess I'm really speaking in the larger sense of parenting. You get a handful of affluent or affluent appearing parents together and you've got a recipe for overdoing it, going too far and pushing the limits of what our parents would have considered parental indulgence.
Speaking of the after prom (I did speak about it up there somewhere), the mom who very nicely offered to host the party called and chatted with me before hand. She told me what rules she'd put in place to keep the kids safe, etc. She'd put a lot of thought into and I appreciated that she was (a) willing to have a house full of teens and (b) attempting to have reasonable and clear rules so that her house wouldn't be the scene of an all out orgy of sex, drugs and show tunes. (The majority of these kids are in the performing arts.)
The Dancer, a classic oldest child, mother hen sort, isn't one I worry much about. I know some of you might think me naive, but, honestly, except for the politics and her gender - this kid is Alex P. Keaton. Driven, focused, ambitious. Ain't nothing going to mess up her future, especially boys, drugs, or alcohol. If it weren't for the large birthmark on her belly, I'd think they sent the wrong baby home with us when we left the hospital.
Before the prom, she and I were going over plans.
"So you're all set ?" I asked offhandedly. Of course she was.
"Yep," she answered distractedly. She was taking a brief break before heading to the studio and was checking her Facebook.
"Oh, So and So's mom called about after prom. You know the rules, right?"
Heavy sigh. Why must she suffer the indignity of the question? "Yes, I know. So and So's mom even sent home a form with the rules."
"Okay. So......" I began, watching her face pinch together, a crease forming between her eyes. MathMan gets the same look when he thinks I'm about to belabor a point. Frankly, I don't blame them for that pained look. I continued, "So.....I'll clean the bong before you pack it. Have you thought about what to take for the people who huff instead of smoke? What about clean needles? And don't forget the big jar of condoms. I understand someone else's mom is supplying the lube....."
The Dancer laughed. Then her face took on that pained, pinched look again. "Oh, please, please tell me you didn't make that joke to So and So's mom," she said in a rush.
I shrugged. As if. "Of course not," I laughed, shooting her a reassuring look. She smiled and seemed to relax.
I shook my head. "Nope, I just told her that your thirty year old boyfriend would be coming along and bringing his handgun collection with him......."
Because digital pictures make it so easy to overshare, you can see the whole nauseating set of prom pix here.