The afternoon before the prom there was a flutter of activity. I sensed the excitement from my office, knowing the prom was the source, I dug harder into my work. I would not be corrupted. Right about then, my daughter burst in, she’d accompanied an older girlfriend to a tanning salon! A tanning salon?!? They still exist I asked, dumb and out of touch (the next day, the New Jersey woman, who baked herself and her five year old, was in the news) what’s more, the proprietor of the tanning salon assured my kid that she would tan up faster than others and gee, she should try. I was livid. But I nodded and suggested that she do some online research re the safety of tanning beds.
I was in no mood to celebrate the Junior Prom. After all, I’m a practitioner of feminist parenting. That, and I just read Anna Quindlen’s new memoir, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake. Quindlen writes that she raised two feminist sons and one feminist daughter. After reading her memoir, I was sure that I had not raised feminist enough children. My failure as a parent fresh, I was asked to clap for the prom.
Oh, and, Hayley’s recent pieces on girls and their eating disorders , had me all a tither. If proms are not fodder for starving onself, what is?
But guess what, I rallied. Because that’s what parenting is all about. But, first I pointed out the celebration of traditional heterosexual roles.
“Girls go with girls and guys with guys, that’s so not true anymore” I was shut down by that, and by daughter’s eye roll, and son’s smirk.
I recovered and countered daughter’s eye roll and son’s smirk, with questions about eating disorders — the teenage girl epidemic and how to prom dresses feed (pun intended) to the expectations of perfection?!
Daughter pissed at mommy-downer: ”Oh God. It’s just fun. It’s not always somebody starving themselves.”
Son: “Girls are so weird about food, just eat…” I watched my son shake his rented tuxedo out of the bag. Like a Halloween costume; his rented tuxedo, crimson vest and bow-tie. Yeah, the prom is a lot like Halloween, I like Halloween.
In small and large towns all over America, the prom is taken as seriously as an election. The whole town comes out to watch the couples make an entrance in their finery. I did not go but that night. My son didn’t want me to, and honestly, after all my feminist posturing, I would have felt like a fraud. But FB showcased the dresses the fake tans and the professional updos.
The next day, my kids told me to come, come look at the pics. I did, I leaned over them, cup of tea in hand, ready to sociologically scrutinize the prom. Instead I oohed and aahed over one gorgeous gown after another. Then, out of nowhere, popped my son, looking all grown up with a lopsided crimson bow-tie linking arms with a girl in a crimson dress. I sat down and sighed. They looked adorable.
Daughter: “See mom, nobody’s hungry, she (son’s date) doesn’t even have a fake tan.”
Son: “Okay, okay, move along, There are more pictures, of other people.”