Last week was the high school Homecoming dance, traditionally a special event. By this I mean the girls dress to the nines and their dates wear a clean shirt, tie, and ironed trousers. Getting my sophomore son out of his frayed jeans, stained hoodie, and untied gym shoes and into a presentable outfit is no small task.
Because basically I have to start from scratch every time.
Normally he slouches around looking like a dirty duffel bag, but once a year there’s a wedding /funeral /dance /family photograph which requires a disinfecting bath and decent attire. Nature dictates that since the last tortured occasion, he’s had a major growth spurt and his pants are now hobo-comical. The sleeves of his dress shirt hit midway between elbow and wrist. The kid has outgrown everything and can’t even find his nice belt. That means I’ve got to buy socks, nice pants, a shirt, tie, shoes, and this time, Stephen wanted a sweater vest (it looks pulled together without being fussy).
Naturally I’m loath to spend much money on a one-hit wonder.
We mothers scoured thrift shops, cased the Kohl’s sales, and begged, bartered, and borrowed to complete the sophomore’s requisite outfit. Unlike girls, who take the initiative on their clothes, boys are pretty much worthless during the prep phase. They don’t like shopping; despise trying on clothes. I caught Stephen eyeing the cleanest dirty pair of jeans he owned. He was thinking those nasty basketball shoes weren’t all that bad, and other kids will probably wear theirs anyway.
Somehow, I pulled it together on time, and after I’d rethreaded his belt through all the loops, sent him upstairs to change out of white gym socks, and shellacked down that pesky cowlick, we grabbed his date’s corsage and departed.
The lovely tradition in these parts is for someone to host a pre-dance gathering at their home, so fifteen or twenty kids converged for a group photo-taking session. For parents, it’s a terrific way to meet and greet (which doesn’t happen much as the kids get older.) But we also get to gaze upon our collective offspring while they are scrubbed, pressed, and polished within an inch of their lives (also something that doesn’t happen much.)
It’s a precious, proud sight. For that one brief shining moment, it’s worth all the effort.
Marna Krajeski’s most recent book is Great GetTogethers: A Party Planner, Organizer, and Keepsake. She’s also the author of HOUSEHOLD BAGGAGE: The Moving Life of a Military Wife and HOUSEHOLD BAGGAGE HANDLERS: 56 Stories From the Hearts and Lives of Military Wives.