Homecoming season was upon us recently; my two still at home both went to respective dances, one in Portland and one here locally. These occurred on the same day which was convenient in that I only had one date to remember for the boys. It was inconvenient since we were hosting a quarterly gathering of families at our home in celebration of Autumn and her vibrant canticle.
I was pleased to hear that our out-of-town dance needed nothing from me as BeersBoy#3 and his date were recycling the outfits from Prom 2016; no flowers necessary thank-you-very-much. I’m sure her parents were equally excited to keep their hard-earned money in the bank rather than more shopping. Meanwhile, Beers Boy #2 wore clothes he already owns for Church attendance. They both slipped out of our party quietly and we sent them off with a hug while continuing to entertain our guests.
The next morning as I opened my Social Media news feed, I was bombarded with loads of pictures that proud parents sent into cyberspace for my perusal. I’ll be honest, most of what I saw made me sad that both of my boys had to see girls paraded around in such skimpy finery, causing me to wonder what some parents were thinking when they purchased such dresses.
I may not have daughters, but I do know a thing or two about headstrong teenagers; I’m well aware at the drama that ensues when a 15-going-on-28 year old decided to make a fuss about how utterly ignorant I am and how stupid my parenting policies are. I also know that the buck stops with me: I have no business lamenting what (in my case, he) is wearing because it is typically my money that paid for it. Truthfully, if I did have a daughter I would be ready to pull my hair out over the lack of appropriate attire for a lady.
It is my job as a parent to instill basic social skills on my offspring: table manners and polite social etiquette among other gentlemanly skills. Our boys are taught to hold the door open for others, especially ladies and the elderly, to let ladies go first in line for functions, to pay all things when on a date (regardless who does the asking) and to shake hands properly. As you might imagine, things were quite interesting when they were 5-10 years old, complete with cowlicks, mud, unbrushed teeth, mysterious holes in pants and hands that perpetually needed to be washed. I remember threatening to feed one in the laundry room often or sending 3, 4, or sometimes all 5 back to the sink to “use soap this time”. They were the epitome of slovenly manners. Yet, the day we were out at a public eating establishment and my youngest leaned over to me saying, “Mom, I know you would have had my hide for chewing with my mouth open!” I tasted the sweet flavor of success at least somewhere regarding manners (we have yet to master dinner topics which, somehow, continues to degrade to boy humor and burping).
I didn’t take any pictures of the boys but felt a tinge of ‘Facebook shaming” when I suddenly came to the party empty handed when everyone else had a kid to show off. Wasn’t I proud of them? Well, of course. Actually, I was even more proud of the fact that both of the boys along with one girl were clear-eyed and quite practical about what amounts to a simple dance; for that’s all homecoming, with all its’ expense and hoopla is: a dance, plain and simple. No parent should have to charge hundreds of dollars on a credit card to send a 15 year old to a dance. There are a few places a young man or lady should dress up: Church, a wedding, prom. When I went to make that list, those are the only three I could legitimately come up with and I wonder where we got the notion as a society that minor gatherings proceeded to be elevated to major events.
I hope and pray that I can continue to treat the boys as adolescents and not adults as they go through this important maturation process, putting things is proper order, remembering that a dance is just a dance and manners make a gentleman.