Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Winter Formal--Bree's Junior Year

January 19, 2010

Saturday was the Winter Formal at our school. I've been to lots of them, since I love to chaperone the big dances at our school, but this was a special one, since this was the first time Bree attended.

During Christmas, her boyfriend Jeff asked her to the formal, via a sweet message delivered by the stuffed animal that was his Christmas gift to her. Both his parents and I got to be there to see the exchange--it was pretty adorable.

She and I spent some time shopping for dresses and shoes, and making hair and nail appointments for her. Luckily, she's not an extravagant sort of kid, so although she wanted to look beautiful for the big night, she was not out trying to break the Bank 'o Mom, which I appreciate. Ultimately, she decided on a simple but elegant black dress, accented with some killer shoes and rhinestone jewelry.

On Saturday afternoon, Bree and three other girls all got together to get ready at the house of one of the girls. After about an hour, the boys--their dates--all joined them. Parents were then invited to come have our photo op moments between 6-7, while the kids were waiting for their limo to arrive. (I never got a limo to go to any of my dances in, but it seems that's the thing they all do now. Our kids were pretty smart, though--rather than paying to have the limo wait outside the dance for a few hours, they only rented it to take them to dinner and then back to the dance. Parents dropped off cars at the school so that some of the kids could drive everyone else home once the dance was over. It was a pretty smart way to get a little elegance without over-extending their pocketbooks.)

Once the limo driver settled them all in their luxurious ride, they headed off to BJ's, where they had a reservation for dinner at 7:30. It was apparently a popular place, as several large groups chose to dine there. Good thing they had reservations! At the same time, I made my way over to the school, where I settled in at my assigned task as ticket-taker for the night's event. That's a pretty great gig, by the way, if you're going to chaperone a dance. You get to see all of the kids all dressed up coming in the door, their bellies filled with good food and their feet not yet swollen from the uncomfortable heel heights and unfamiliar straps of brand new tortuous (but beautiful!) shoes. The night is still young and fresh with anticipation. Plus, if you're at the door, you don't have to see those elegantly dressed young men and women writhing suggestively on the dance floor on the opposite side of the room, pressed too closely together for the comfort of anyone over the age of 23 whose job it is, by virtue of being witness to the provocative nature of their dances, to wrest the bodies asunder. Especially given that my daughter would be one of the kids on the dance floor that night, those were not images I needed to have in my brain. Nope, I'll leave the dance floor policing to someone else, thank you very much, and just enjoy the polite chit-chat of the attendees at the door, complimenting the gentlemen on their sophisticated tuxes, and the ladies on their finery.

(As a side note, let me just say that year in and year out, I am amazed at some of the dresses these girls' mamas and daddies let them walk out the door wearing. I mean, yes, I get that if you've got it, you are proud to show it off. But really--are these girls taking their moms shopping with them when they pick out dresses that are almost short enough to be able to see what color panties they've coordinated with? Are the moms looking at these dresses that are so tight they might as well have been painted on their bodies? Are the dads so proud that their daughters can pull off the Barbie Doll look that they're willing to send out that kind of message to the boy who is lucky enough to get to be by her side for the evening? Not that I'm advocating long sleeves, high necklines, and hemlines that fall modestly just below the ankle bone. No, I just think that a dress that a sixteen year old girl wears out in public ought to be comprised of more material than it takes to create a standard pillowcase.)

Anyway, Bree and her group of friends arrived at the dance somewhere around nine-thirty, and stayed to dance until the last song. As promised, I stayed away from her during the dance so that she didn't have to worry about me hovering, and therefore stealing away a bit of their autonomy, which after all, is a big part of what these nights are about. You get to try on a little bit of a new you, when you're a kid attending formal. You dress yourself in the robes of an adult--new and somewhat foreign clothes. You take on, maybe for the first time, the responsibility of ordering and paying for dinner on your own; you learn the etiquette of both figuratively and literally dancing around members of the opposite sex; you negotiate the gentle art of leave-taking at the end of a pleasant (or even not so pleasant, as can sometimes happen) night.

This is what the dance was, is. A metaphor of becoming. I am watching my daughter, and all of her friends, these children who in my mind's eye are yet five years old, or seven, or twelve--whatever age they were when they first fell into the orbit of her world (and by extension, mine), become simultaneously sixteen, seventeen, twenty-four. Becoming who they will become. They are standing on the edge, testing out their wings before taking flight.


  1. Oh - you KILL me with your writing talent. I felt as if I were the one in your shoes and even choked back a tear. Bree looked gorgeous but, frankly, she can be dressed in sweats and tenny runners and be gorgeous. She is a mirror of her momma and you have every right to be proud.
    When Zoë gets to this event, I'll be proud too. Especially if I don't have to post bail.
    Love you and your family and am very blessed to have you back in my life.

  2. I like this note. Tell Bree that I say she's gorgeous. And smart move on the limo! I tended to not take a limo but her group came up with such a great compromise. I like it. I miss you!

  3. Those are some amazing shoes. And is he in spats?!?! Excellent.

    It's great that you get to be a part of this in more of a way then most parents.

    (Also - the hotel where I work occasionally hosts proms. I hear you about the dresses. Yikes.)