Wednesday, May 11, 2011

“Help Me Do It Myself”

Millie writes:

So the Senior Prom is this Saturday, and even though Jack is a junior his girlfriend du jour is a senior and he wants to do it up right.

His problem? An allowance of $5 a week and no job.

What's a fella to do?

Of course, we could drop a bundle on his behalf for tux, limo, flowers and restaurant food. However, it's always kinda been our policy that if you're old enough to date, you're old enough to pay for it yourself; also, technically, it's not “his” Senior Prom.

Well, it's great to have a policy, but it doesn't help much when one's maternal heart is saying, “Ohhhhh! He wants it to be romantic! I want to raise my sons to be romantic . . . can't we help him out just a little bit?”

This tendency of mine to talk a good game and then cave in the ninth inning is what has prevented me from being a good Tiger Mom this last quarter-century. However, Jack's the sixth of six, and by this time I have learned to do what toddler Rocky used to ask for so plaintively: “help me do it myself!” This approach lets everyone involved save face.
Ana, if you read this: Please don't tell her what he's planning. I'm not sure how much of it he'll be able to pull together in time!

Talk it out.
Since buying the tickets pretty much cleaned Jack out financially, we brainstormed together to find alternative approaches to the rest of the prom that he could pay for using creativity and elbow grease. Our city is known for its roses, so Jack's planning a picnic in an international rose test garden – under the same gazebo where Lance and I got married. He's also planning to stick a few of his Select Choir buddies behind some trees so they can step out and help him serenade his sweetie at the proper moment . . . awwwwwwww!

Do some footwork. All the gentlemen who live in my house own at least one tuxedo, so even if Jack didn't have his own he has access to several different styles. (If you have a social teenage son, I strongly recommend buying him his own tux. You can find them in thrift stores or online, and you'll recoup your investment by avoiding even one rental fee. The prices are ridiculous.) Yesterday – yesterday – he decided that he really wants a bow tie in a color to match her dress. Obviously the place to get one is at a formal-wear store, but that's not gonna happen on $5 a week – so guess who's gonna be combing the Goodwills and discount stores today, looking for a yellow bow tie?

“Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills.” The boyfriends don't have to have all the skills, as long as their moms do. I was somewhat flattered when, even though I offered to pay for the corsage, Jack asked if we could make it instead (that being something I do know how to do). I took him to the crafts store yesterday so he could select the wristband (I have everything else we need except the flowers) and he also picked out a few small, romantic charms to dangle amidst the blossoms . . . awwwwwwww!

Do a little grunt work. Lance and I are big on romantic picnics too, and I have a few fantastic picnic baskets. You can bet the fanciest one is going to be packed with china, crystal, (electric) candles and a spiffy groundcloth before being stuffed to bursting point with sparkling cider, elegant food made for dining alfresco and a really elegant dessert.

Back away.
Remember that, in the end, it's not your project. He may not do things the way you would, but your job is to assist the director, not to direct. It's quite possible that your child will come away with the impression that he has brought the whole thing off himself.

If that happens, congratulations. Mission accomplished!


  1. How very sweet! I hope it all goes according to plan!

  2. Stamping her foot. His is NOT old enough for PROM. ... NOPE not Jack... nope nope nope.....

    Gosh where in the world has the time gone?



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