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Can I say a few things about homecoming?
OK. Now that I have that out of my system, I’ll say this: I’ve never cared much about homecoming. I know to some folks it is the biggest deal ever. In my high school days, the biggest thing about homecoming was using float-building parties as an excuse to be out of the house doing things that made us feel, er, floaty.
Homecoming has changed. My mother and in-laws tell me back in their day it was just a dance. Maybe you wore your good wool skirt. While I never went to a homecoming dance, my friends did. I saw the pictures. It was a night to dress up, no question, but not on the scale of your wedding or a debutante ball. I don’t recall stretch limousines, party buses, full-length beaded gowns and elaborate up-dos, either. For prom, yes. Homecoming, no.
Am I showing my age?
The first hurdle in homecoming is selecting a dress that is neither a budget-breaker nor a vomit-inducer. Luckily, my Girl from the West did a pretty good job of staying within the bounds of taste and decency. There were a few times I had to leave the dressing room in frustration due to disagreements about the proper size and fit. What I saw parading around in the dressing area was both amusing and shocking. First, that some of these dresses were made at all. Second, that they were under consideration for purchase.
The second hurdle is keeping your teenager from slipping into the abyss of senselessness and divahood. Like wedding No. 2 and baby No. 2, you learn that most of the stuff you thought you had to have for event No. 1 was unnecessary. I had a much easier time this year getting Girl from the West to realize that she had most of what she needed in her closet.
The third hurdle, perhaps the biggest one of all, is my own lack of understanding of how some things work in this world. I had an atypical childhood. I did not participate in many things that most people would consider normal rites of passage. So, now, as the mother of teenager, I question and marvel at things other parents consider standard operating procedure. For example, the pre-dance, picture-taking hullabaloo. After taking the obligatory shots at home with the corsage and boutonniere pinning, I was instructed to drive to a stranger’s house, which possesses some outstanding feature, such as a large foyer, a formal staircase, an elaborately landscaped yard. There, I would join a herd of bored and somewhat confused parents armed with cameras. For the next 30 minutes or so, it was the red carpet on Oscar night. I felt like a paparazzo outside a popular celebrity hangout.
In theory, it’s a nice way to get pictures of your teen and her date. In reality, it’s ground zero for drama. Last year, there was a meltdown over a cream-colored gown getting slammed in a greasy car door. This year, one young woman felt the need to openly mock and ridicule her mother, who apparently did not know how to use a digital camera. But it doesn’t end there. This goes on until someone says, “stop the madness.”
I always feel a little off after these experiences. The kids seem spoiled and full of entitlement. The parents seem addled or resigned. I’m scared to death that I’ve become the dim-brained parent of a spoiled teen. I’m never sure if my perceptions are shared by other parents or if I’m hyper-sensitive. Like last year, I came home, drank a glass of wine, and assumed the fetal position for the rest of the night.
In another dozen years, I get to do it all again.
Oh god, hold me.