Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Father's Nightmare - Prom

One of the advantages of writing a blog is that your kids will never read it. Of course neither will anyone else. 

A long time and cherished friend recently posted that her daughter has a date to prom. It is not surprising, she is intelligent and talented.  Of course the mother is thrilled.  In fact, mothers are usually far more delighted than anyone else.

Now I offer a different perspective.  It is one of a father with a daughter who will eventually be eligible to attend prom. Note the key word, eligible.  This is a quick post, as you will see, I have been thinking about it for a long time.

I have very strong and very divergent emotions on this subject.  When my daughter was born I discussed her future with my mother.  I said my daughter will not go out with boys until she is 40 or I am dead. As a former boy and now adult male (by society’s standards, my family may have a different opinion). I can say with considerable certainty, boys (and men) are by and large pigs.  They were pigs when they asked out my sister back in Midland, Texas where we grew up; they were pigs in college when they asked out girls who were friends but not girl friends, they are pigs today and they will be pigs tomorrow. 

In the history of the universe, I know the following constants:  death, taxes, lots of people watch bad reality shows, Scotch is the best adult drink, and boys (men) are pigs.

However, my mother pointed out to me that my worst fear is that my daughter is asked out for prom. My worst fear will also be that she is not asked to prom.  As I wrote earlier, I have thought about her words over the years, but never more than now.  My daughter is not the little tough, determined girl that used to play really rough with me. She is a teenager (a separate blog or several entries unto itself and mostly depressing).

As always, I digress. My daughter is a beautiful, talented intelligent, funny, young lady.  Yes, I am biased. If she reads this, I could list her flaws, but at some point I need to go to bed.  In summary, she is very much like her mom (minus the flaws).

What my wise mom told me so many years ago was you will be deeply concerned if she is asked out. If she is not asked to prom, she will likely be hurt and you can do little to help her.  My mother is right.  As a parent, I want my kids to show their unique traits, be independent and hope they will be accepted by a number of other kids for who they are. Conversely, I expect my kids to accept many other kids for who they are. That is simplistic. In other words, stand out and excel, but not so much that you are considered odd.

So often our kids and others tell us how much harder it is to be a kid today.  No one really tells parents how hard it is on us.  Do not get me wrong, I love being a parent.  Any with any labor of love, and I count being a parent as one, it is hard work and can stir strong emotions and passions.  When my kids succeed, I share their happiness and it is a wonderful emotion for me as a parent. Equally important, when they hurt, it pains me just as deeply, if not more so.  Still, it is a long and a joyful journey, with a few bumps.

Finally, I only have to go through this once as I have only one daughter. I cannot imagine how much more difficult it would be if I had more than one. For those friends of mine with more than one daughter and as you face this nightmare each time, come on over. For I will pour you the good Scotch, you deserve it.

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