Prom season. Another rite of passage. A ceremonial shift.
If it was a football game, there would be a myriad of colorful flags being thrown. Something – anything – that screams at parents: Are you seeing this? Don’t tell me you’ve missed another event!
Not long ago they were infants challenging your diapering skills. Then you are running out for the big kid underwear and racing off highways for emergency potty stops that did not necessarily coincide with the designated rest areas. A few months later (or so it seems), they are skipping off to preschool and on to the tortures of middle school where they have the first of several significant birthdays that turn them into teenagers before they ask to drive and head off to the prom.
Where have you been?
Just how many clues do we get that our children are growing up?
Get a Rare Good Night’s Sleep.
Have Your First Lovely Romantic Date Night in More Than 8 Years.
Yet Another Clue.
And suddenly they are taking the posters off their walls and moving out.
Weren’t you just showing them how to hold a pencil? Teaching them not to grab the cat’s tail? And reminding them, yet again, what a clean bathroom looks like – in real time? (And yes, Dear Child, both toilet and tub are included in standard bathroom cleanings.)
Back to this night.
In the midst of important questions as to which nail polish is the best and which accessories/jewelry/shoes would “work” or which color cumberband and bowtie combo will match the dress when he’s never seen the dress – who knew that there were so many shades of pink? – there stands your daughter or son growing up, up, and away.
While your teen obsesses and lives and breathes the anxieties of the moment, it is urgent that you step back and take a second look at your own anxieties of the bigger meaning of this moment.
Where’s the exhibitionist toddler who refused to get dressed? What happened to the little girl who played house and then grew up and decided she wanted to be – WAIT! What IS the latest plan?!? And is she really choosing to wear her new black Converse sneakers with her prom dress? (Yes, she did. And she looked great AND – BONUS – her feet didn’t hurt.)
Give these moments back to your teen. As you snap pictures for the evening, whisper a memory of them that makes you smile (not cry, please). Do it quietly.
Just slip it in seamlessly in the early evening before they head off into their own memory making night. Let them know you are with them. Let them know you are listening and observing. Let them know you haven’t forgotten. And won’t forget.
Sure, they may “Oh, Mom/Dad” you with exasperation. But I can pretty much guarantee that they will remember that you paused to take this all in. That they will realize that you are taking stock and watching them. And that they will know you are present and happy to be so.
You’ll each recall this prom night differently. And when you sew your memories together with their memories later tonight, next week, in 5, 10, 20 years, you will both be grateful for the other.
Next stop? College acceptance?
Whoa! Slow down!
Flags on the play!
Take Time to Tech Off and Talk On.