I Am Running Away From Home (Coming)

12 Oct

Well, friends….Ben is a freshman in high school. He’s having fun so far (maybe too much fun between texting, oovoo-ing, tweeting, snap-chatting and keeping up with what seems like 17 Fantasy Football Leagues.) I am thankful and happy that he and his friends – old and newly found – are starting the year out well.

And then there’s Homecoming….O. M. G.

Let’s start with an interesting lunch I had last week with six other moms; most long-time friends and a couple of acquaintances:

Here’s the stats on the seven of us:

  • We all have freshmen (three boys and four girls).
  • Three also have older kids and two also have younger kids. Two of us have only children.
  • Out of our seven freshmen, five are planning on attending their Homecoming dances so far.
  • Of the two that are not going – one is by choice and the other is devastated because no one has asked her yet, though she may decide to go with a group of other girls going solo.

Between the seven of us, our kids attend four different high schools. And though it sounds like a nice cross-section representing different cultures and traditions, our Homecoming preparations and stories were very similar…

I suppose I thought that all the ninth graders would attend the dance in a big group. Ben’s reply: “That’s what they may have done back in the fifties, mom, when you were in high school, but that’s not how it works now.” Ouch! (And for the record, I was not in high school in the fifties. It was the seventies.) But I learned that many but not all kids go with dates – and most of those dates, as in Ben’s case, are just really good friends.

So, here are the similarities we discovered at lunch:

The girls started picking their dresses out months ago (WAY before they knew if and with whom they were going). Most of them order a few dresses on-line and choose the one they like best. The boys will rush to get a new suit (or get their suits lengthened!) the week of the dance. (Kind of like most of our weddings, right?)

The boys ask the girls in novel ways – for instance – Ben, with the help of another very good (female) friend who nudged him along every step of the way (because God forbid he would accept help from his mom), asked his date this way: He took a large heart-shaped cookie cake (that he graciously ‘let’ me make) that he decorated (kind of blurry, really) with ‘HOCO 14’ in frosting, plus a poster board sign that said something like ‘it would break my heart if you don’t go to Homecoming with me’ over to his date’s house.

He walked in the door and said ”I have a question for you”. Then, ever the jokester, Ben quipped “Do we have any geometry homework?” She was a little startled for a second and then he quickly asked for real. Other kids asked by similar innovative ways, bringing bears, flowers and signs and make it kind of fun.

In more extreme cases, (there are actually searches in Pinterest and websites devoted to elaborate ways to ask a date to a dance) we have heard of scavenger hunts, flash mobs, votives spelling out Homecoming? along the driveway of the ‘unsuspecting’ girl…all kinds of fancy things, funded and fueled by moms and dads all over the country! My guess is that a teenage boy would trade the tricks for a text request and be done with it, but, you know…

Out of all of us – and this was startling for me – only one of the kids actually planned her own Homecoming evening. She and a friend texted a group of 18 kids and together – without parental interference or influence – decided where they wanted to take some photos before the dance, chose a restaurant and collected the money from everyone all by themselves, went to the dance and had a great time.

The rest of us had story after story (not just about our kids, but friends from all over the place) about meddlesome moms who tried to plan their child’s every single high-heeled step – down to who their sons (or daughters) ‘should’ ask or agree to go with, what group of kids would be good enough to be with for an entire evening and who would be invited to (secret in a couple of cases) intimate after-parties. One of those parties, with full parental knowledge, involved champagne toasts. Did I mention that we are talking about freshmen?

One mom told her daughter’s date that he would have to find his own ride from the pre-dinner to the dance so that his dates’ older brother could come and video his sister’s evening (I couldn’t make this stuff up). I can barely conceive of how that boy felt. And what do you suppose that family will do with all that video footage? Most people I know don’t even re-watch their wedding videos!

One girl we talked about excitedly told her mom that an old friend she had become much closer with this school year wanted to come by that evening to ‘ask her something’. Her mom, however, had already secretly arranged to have her daughter asked to homecoming by her best friend’s son. Meddling Mom then shot a quick text to the boy’s mom to discourage the invitation before it occurred (“you know, to avoid a scene”). She even had the nerve to suggest her daughter’s still dateless friend as a suitable alternative. She couldn’t understand why the boy’s mom wasn’t more appreciative of her efforts to be helpful!

Can you even imagine?

For most of us – no, I’m sure for all of us – all we want is for our kids to enjoy themselves and their dates, if they have them. We want them to create memories that will have them looking back and smiling (and hopefully not puking). I’m thankful that Ben is mostly oblivious to a lot that goes on behind the scenes. I’m also realistic to know he’ll be hearing, experiencing and figuring it all out very soon. I can only hope he never gets caught up in it and I can pretty much guarantee that Ben, his adorable date and all his friends will have a great time at Homecoming 2014. But behind the smiles and corsages – wow….

So why are so many of these true experiences so completely parent-obsessed? What actually drives these people? Well, I have some ideas about that – and I’m going to save them for another post.

In the meantime, I leave you with this…I love it…

A week or so ago, my dear friend – a former staff member of mine – who is a sassy and incredibly talented hair stylist posted this on her Facebook page: “Dear Homecoming Mom: Do I hover over you while you put your potatoes and carrots in the crock pot? NO! So please give me and my friends some room while we make this shit happen for your girl! Sincerely, This Ain’t My First Rodeo….”

Happy Homecoming?!?

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3 Responses to “I Am Running Away From Home (Coming)”

  1. Doree Nowack October 12, 2014 at 11:33 pm #

    Loved the new post, love them all so far.

  2. Samantha Mesyn October 13, 2014 at 7:47 am #

    What a great read. I’m the mother of a current freshman, as well. She’s smart, cute, and very independent. She’s plans her own events and I just make sure I can help her out with anything that is missing (I then confirm any plans that have a hole in them like being sure there is parental supervision in the right places…without embarrassing her). It’s tough though, she’s my oldest and has always been this sweet little girl (and by little I mean…she can’t even come close to fitting into your average homecoming dress, that’s another story in itself). Fyi…I enjoy your articles..I went to Ferndale and coached there years ago 🙂

  3. Barry October 22, 2014 at 11:11 pm #

    My daughter is going to homecoming this saturday…thanks for the post!

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