Years ago, I wrote of watching our then pre-teen daughter prepare for her first formal dance. She went with girlfriends in a flurry of puffy dress and fluff hair.
I can still recall finding a lollipop, stick stained with pink lip gloss, that she left in her wake. It comforted me.
Now she is in high school, and attending her first formal dance with a date. He’s a very nice boy with a right to privacy, so I won’t say more.
Suffice to say that Mr. Wonderful refers to him as he does most teenage boys with designs on his daughter (aka all of them) as “the one with the hands.” He further categorizes them as “the other one with the hands.” Also eyes, which really bothers him.
Spending summers at the lake with a daughter living in a bathing suit will do that. Floor length bathing costumes fell out of favor in the 1920s, much to Mr. Wonderful’s dismay.
I always feel for the young men who are guests at the lake with us. A weekend spent in the confines of a 19-foot boat means endless opportunities to have Mr. Wonderful toss you overboard for looking at his daughter cross-eyed — or at all.
As a rule, Mr. Wonderful letting you on his boat isn’t the true test of his feelings for you. It’s letting you BACK onto his boat once you hit open water that is the assessment of your merit.
Climbing in and out of a boat in a bathing suit all weekend provides endless opportunity for a glance to go wrong. Never has such interest been feigned in sea gulls by young men before.
Meanwhile, during GirlWonder’s first date (at a very public parade and street fair because that’s the kind of wholesome old-fashioned dating we allow), her date, a very nice young man, ended up holding a tiny Bible.
Explaining that it was thrust upon him by a parade member, he was interrupted by Mr. Wonderful who explained sternly, “That’s where you went wrong. You should have told me you BEGGED for that Bible, son.”
Ever since Mr. Wonderful decided to channel redneck country songs in relation to dating his daughter, things have been a little rough around here.
Not for us, but the boys are really suffering.
Preparing a girl for the dance starts early and often. Our daughter is actually pretty low maintenance. She found a dress in the first store we visited. Ditto shoes and accessories.
This does not mean that we haven’t spent countless hours pondering hair, makeup, nails and a million tiny glittery accessories that will be lost almost immediately.
I really think bobby pins should just be tossed onto the sidewalk, car seats, and dance floor now. Save time and don’t bother putting them in the hair at all.
Many girls will spend hours thinking of dress color, accessories, hem lengths, straps v. strapless, undergarments, hair, makeup, things they can smear glitter on (everything you own) and shoes.
They will also work to coordinate their date’s clothing, gently direct said date (or his mother) on floral selections, and text photos of the dress to said boys for verification.
I’m positive that homecoming and prom are the only times that otherwise fashion-challenged young men of America walk around with a cellular photo stream full of formal dresses and at least a passing knowledge of wrist corsage versus nosegay (and don’t collapse into a fit of giggles after the first mention of the latter).
Meanwhile, I recently asked BoyWonder to try on four — FOUR — pairs of khaki pants he might need for school. It was a 15 minute commitment and he reacted as if it were a hostage situation.
The following weekend his girlfriend and her mother invited him to spend six HOURS buying two homecoming dresses and he went along willingly.
The boy, we know, will be visited by the Homecoming Fairy in the form of mom who delivers an entire suit of dress clothing and coordinating tie to his closet.
Said boy will shower, (maybe) shave, and style his hair exactly like he does every other day of his life, cinch up a tie, pick up the corsage his mother ordered for him to give his date, and melt his mother’s heart by looking completely handsome without even trying.
Properly coiffed, these boys and girls — still children — will pose for photos documenting yet another milestone, another memory, and never realize until they are parents themselves that they are someone’s whole world and heart out walking around.
A chosen few will also hear the voice of Mr. Wonderful or his parenting counterpart saying, sternly, “Keep your eyes, hands, and any errant thoughts inside your own space — and off of my daughter — at all times.”