I go to prom

Part of being an educator is learning to do things outside of your comfort zone … become willing to be a fool, because you are going to be the fool, you just have to learn how to deal with it.

That being said … I don’t like dancing.  Organized dances are about the worst thing on Earth I can do.  I’m rarely good at parties unless I really psyche myself up a bit.  I won’t even go into wedding receptions.

While I would do virtually anything for students,  chaperoning dances is a definite no no for me.  I chaperoned a freshman mixer the one year I worked at my alma mater:  I broke up two fights and saw lots of crying girls.

Fast forward 14 years.

Earlier this year, a former student who is heading to law school, and is president of the GSA (Gay Student Alliance), asked me to chaperone the school’s first ever dance for gay/lesbian/transgendered and their allies.  I said yes, mostly because I had told her that I would be willing to help her, and because of timing I had been unable to help out earlier works … I didn’t want her to think I was putting her off for the wrong reasons.  The kids had a good time, and that was about that.

Of course prom is the king of dances.  Thousands of dollars wasted on dresses, tuxeedos, limos, party busses, keggers, lake homes, etc.  I never went in high school, and have been very happy to not be called on to work this.

But, I am a sucker for someone in distress.

One of my colleagues who was scheduled to work prom found out from her husband that relatives were coming for a visit tonight on a week’s notice.  On top of that she just finished her MS and is really stressed out.

Oh …. she is seven months pregnant with her second child.  She is a good friend (she spots for me during football games) … so when she sent out word that she needed someone to cover for her …

Damn …. I can’t say no to things like this!

So … after avoiding it for 21 years, tonight I was off to prom.

What did I learn?  As I suspected all along, it is really an overblown experience.  I am surprised that the experience continues given that parents must understand this, but still allow their daughters to go spend hundreds of dollars on the aforementioned things.  I guess some folks think it is a “right of passage” …. but it seems like such a small and ephemeral event to be so big.

I had to report by 8 pm.  I got there around 7:30, by which time desert was being served (teachers were not permitted to eat, which as I was told was a new policy).  Dancing started shortly before 8.  By 9:30 well over half the students were gone.  It was over at 11.

It is bad enough when you have kids who aren’t wholly acting mature (like yelling your name across 420 people who are finishing dinner).  Then they run up and want a picture, and you really want to say no, but saying “could you please cover the three-quarters of your bust line that is sticking out” just won’t come out in any positive way.

One of the other chaperones was our police liaison officer.  He noted that he was very worried about the number of students who were not only leaving early, but of the rumors of the larger than usual number of kids who, instead of  going to the After-Prom Celebration, were going to lake houses, hotels, or other places.  He noted that he had already been contacted by an out-of-state police department inquiring about our prom since they had gotten word that a group had rented a lakeside condo for the weekend.

I was told that the chaperones were going to rotate between various posts around the room, but after over a half hour of being stationed near the doors next to the DJ (and speakers), I was nearly deaf.  I have never had the greatest of hearing, but I caouldn’t remember having so little ability to hear.  I had a student come up and talk to me, and I am certain that he finally got annoyed when I kept nodding and saying “yes”.  I was then told that most of the chaperones were having a great time, and didn’t want to rotate.

Far be it from me to be the party pooper and ask people to have a little less of a good time and do their jobs …

I wasn’t such a happy camper, because I said that I really needed to get out of there.  Fortunately, they were able to get me to one of the positions in the outer hall for the rest of the evening.

Overall, especially in today’s economy, I would recommend that seniors get a pizza, turn on their music at home, and spend time with friends.  Save the money for college.

They’ll need it!


4 Responses to I go to prom

  1. Beth says:

    I’m surprised that prom, as it is traditionally run, is still going on as well. In this day and age of HS kids figuring out “friends with benefits” being easier, I can’t believe enough of them haven’t figured out and/or care enough to avoid the rip off of prom. Then again, I was 17 once…
    I was intrigued at the vast differences in “handling” prom here in DeKalb Co vs. in/near Chicago. My friends’ kid went to prom this year. According to the parents, about 95% of the kids who attend prom, also attend post-prom, which is sponsored and run by the school (and local company donations). The kids are literally “locked in” to post-prom, not allowed to leave early or go elsewhere. I guess this cuts down significantly on the number of kids who tell their parents their at post-prom and then sneak off somewhere. Also, “post-prom” is open to all junior and senior students, not just the ones who go to the actual prom. Finally, they actually have fun stuff for kids to do, and adequate adult presence at the post-prom. I do not remember any of the local HSs having any sort of “post-prom” activities for us. I guess that’s changed in the past 20 years to give kids an alternative to the over-priced and less-chaperoned activities available after their prom. My adult friends were completely surprised when I told them that the 2 proms I attended were both held at different downtown Chi-town hotels. I don’t know if that practice has changed in the past years.
    As far as, what the kids do after prom–I feel it’s a parenting responsibility. A bunch of my friends went to Brother Rice prom my senior year, (I didn’t go to that prom) and I was invited to the “after party” at my friend’s cottage in Michigan City. (I don’t know for sure if his mom knew about this) Thinking, for some reason, I had a much more open/trusting relationship with my parents–I was a good kid for the most part/as far as they knew–I told them “yeah, so Ann and I are going to drive out to the cottage and meet everyone after prom”, to which my mother replied “Um, No, no you’re not.” End of story. (Well, OK, after a crying, yelling argument I knew I wouldn’t win…)
    My point is, while kids will always find ways to try and sneak around their parents’ and school’s authority, IMHO it makes it a lot less fun and “worth it” to try when you KNOW you are being watched and that there will be consequences.

  2. teganx7 says:

    I think the whole post-prom thing started coming about just after we graduated. The one at Maine South is about 25 years old, so they must have existed before we graduated. I can honestly say that while I have zero doubt some of the people from Marist ended prom by boozing it up, I couldn’t actually name one who did (most of the people I knew didn’t actually attend prom, but the few that did never mentioned stopping off for a quick one on the way home).

    The Maine South Celebration (the post-prom) is the same way …. usually (and this year was no exception), they take kids somewhere (a comedy club, ESPN zone, Gameworks, etc) for several hours …. free soft drinks, a DJ, games, even a place to rest if they want …. that generally goes from midnight until 5 or 6 am, and it is a “lock in” situation (no one leaves unless a parents picks them up). After that, they are taken somewhere for breakfast (this year it was breakfast on a sunrise cruise on Lake Michigan) … one of my student’s mom was the coordinator … they do tons of fundraising and get lots of corporate donors.

    The sad thing was that the number of kids who participated was way down this year compared to past years, and the number of kids who went away for the weekend with their dates to who knows where to engage in a number of potentially population expanding and brain cell destroying activities was way up. I guess the question was “why so many and why now?”

  3. Beth says:

    Sadly, it could just be a snub to the coordinator and/or her kid. As a teacher, you also know that some graduating classes as a whole are better (behaved, performing) than others (shrug).

  4. RJDS says:

    3 reasons why I didn’t go to prom, ever:

    1. It costs too much. Even as a 17-year old who actually was working at the time earning his own money, knew that for the prices being charged (actual prom, tux rental, etc.), it wasn’t worth it.

    2. No girlfriend. Not involved with anyone at the time. Sure there were a few possibilities I could have asked (and probably failed miserably), but without the pressure of someone who wanted to go hanging over my head, why bother?

    3. Lack of interest, amongst me and my friends. Well, it kinda goes along with #2 since none of my friends at the time as far as I knew didn’t have steady girlfriends, so, who would I even hang out with at the prom?
    (though I think there were actually a few of our friends that did go, with girls that may/may not have been their girlfriends….)

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