Originally published in the Miami News-Record on April 17, 2016.
Since we homeschool we don’t get many chances to dress up. Now, don’t think we’re the stereotypical kind who stay in their pajamas all day (that’s only the entire month of December) because we’re not. Most days we are all awake, dressed, make-up-ed, sufficiently caffeinated, and bordering on productive by 9 am. Because of Vo-tech Sam actually has to leave the house on a daily basis. Of course, as soon as he walks in the door at 12:15 he’s usually in pajama pants within minutes, so there’s that.
Our co-op hosts a semi-formal banquet in the spring and the kids have the chance to get a little gussied up, have dinner with other homeschoolers, and enjoy a special evening. My kids took to calling it the Not-Prom their first year and the name kind of stuck. They’ve done murder mystery dinners (actually, they’re doing that again this year), excursions to Springfield for dinner and a baseball game, and one year they attended a very Pinterest-perfect dinner in a family’s field complete with outdoor chandelier, real china, and fancy soup and stuff. This is Kady’s first year to go and she has learned maximum frugality from her big sister. We managed to get her dress at Susie’s for $6.00. I was pleased. We splurged on the shoes, but hey, it’s her first Not-Prom and that deserves insanely high-heeled sparkly red shoes, right?
I felt kind of bad when it was Abby’s Jr/Sr year and she wasn’t getting ready for the Prom like all of her public schooled friends were. I asked her if she felt like she was missing out. Her reply was as practical as the girl herself: “Mom, the only thing I’m missing out on is the chance to spend a ton of money and wear horribly uncomfortable shoes. I’m fine. Don’t worry.” So I didn’t.
A few months ago my niece Addison casually mentioned to Sam that she thought it might be fun to take him to Prom if he thought he might be interested. They both are dancing fools, they are seriously geeky with their comic books and different fandoms, and are more like brother and sister than cousins. His reply was as boisterous as the boy himself: “HECK YES I’M INTERESTED!” Then not much more was said about it. Until one morning before church she presented him with donuts and a Mountain Dew for a prom-posal: “’Dew’ you want to go to Prom with me? Please ‘donut’ say no!” I secretly wished prom-posals had been a thing back in the 90’s.
Getting him ready for his first and (probably) only Prom was almost as fun as getting a girl ready. A visit to B. Oliver’s for his tux and boutonnière (the cousins refused to give each other flowers because “Ew, Mom. Weird.”) was the highlight of that week. We pored over the book, discussed looks and colors. Barry was helpful and made it a blast. Paul was less than pleased over what it cost to rent a tux, but I reminded him of a picture of a certain mullet-ed 17 year old in a white tux with a powder blue ruffled shirt and mused at how much that probably cost the boy’s mom back in 1979. He harrumphed me.
The big night finally came and unlike a girl, his getting ready routine began about 40 minutes before we had to leave for pictures and merely involved a shower and a shave. I realized I had never actually pinned a boutonnière on a lapel so the pictures show me with a frustrated look on my face and my phone up to my ear because I had to call Mom. His looked like everyone else’s in the pictures so I guess I did okay. He was excited and looked so handsome. One of my new favoritest pictures in the whole wide world is the one of my over-six-foot-tall boy grinning widely with his arm around his smiling, just-over-five-foot-tall momma. It was a night to remember for us both.