Saturday, October 17, 2009

Getting Things Right -- With Or Without Me.



Tonight was Snarky Son’s first Homecoming Dance.

It’s a pretty big deal at his school.  In anticipation of the big night, many of the freshman girls, frantic there will be “nothing left” come October, buy their dresses over the summer, well before they have dates.  The same frenzied line of thinking, I suppose, prompts many of the freshman boys, despite repeated warnings from upperclassmen not to be “that guy,” to brazenly invite girls to the dance the very first week of school.

(Yep.  Everyone over the age of 18 knows that some of those pairings won’t actually make it to the dance.  And some that do, shouldn’t.)

I was pretty enthusiastic about SS’s first “big” dance.  Considerably more enthusiastic, as it turns out, than SS.  He informed me, gently at first and then unyieldingly, that he had zero intention of inviting someone to the dance.  He was going with a bunch of friends.  The end.  Just. Chill. Mom.
There was a back story, of course.  There’s always a back story.  But still.
Not that there’s anything wrong with the “group date,” of course.  But I’d been looking forward to this dance.  The way I saw it, it was an opportunity to make sure he got things right.

I’d intended to share with him – from a “girl’s” perspective – the many responsibilities and requirements of a young man on a date.  You’ve got to ask a girl out in person, for example, not by text, Facebook or the dreaded “through-a-friend.”  You’ve got to consider the color and style of your date’s dress when ordering a corsage.  You’ve got to choose your restaurant by asking your date and her friends what they want (soup and salad), not what you and your friends want (steak and steak).

I was prepared to impress on SS the impression a clean car makes – even though he’s too young to drive said spotless vehicle.  I’d make sure he knew to open his date’s door – and that he wouldn’t close said door on her dress, shoes or worse, her.  I’d remind him that, while being attentive to his date, he can, and should, also dance with other girls – particularly those who arrive without dates. 

I was ready – armed and dangerous.  But as my dad would say, I had nowhere to go and all day to get there.  Despite, and perhaps in spite of, my substantial preparedness, SS denied me the chance to exercise my vast experience and opinions.  He would not ask a date.

I was flummoxed.  Without a date, how could I make sure he learned to get things right?  Is it possible he’ll go all the way through high school, and I'll never have another opportunity to impart my wisdom?  Could he land in college, entirely uninformed and inept, and as a result, spend four years, entirely dateless?  Will he then be spit out into the real world, unable to make his way socially, forced to live a meaningless existence of night-after-night ramen noodles eaten in front of a TV?

Whoa. Was I hydroplaning there for a minute?

OK.  The truth is, although SS had entirely circumvented my overwrought intentions, he was fine.  He was, after all, going to the dance.  He had his ticket.  He was going with friends (most with dates, but some without) to dinner.  His shirt and slacks were pressed, his blazer from last spring still fit – although this is surely its last public appearance. He also opted, perhaps in a concession to me, to wear a tie that's one of my favorites.  Pink.

He was set.  But then, a friend-who’s-a-girl-but-not-a-girlfriend texted him this morning.  (Of course there’s a back story.  There’s always a back story.)  Turns out her date had the flu.  As she told SS, now she didn’t have a date to Homecoming, either.

I"m not sure what happened next, because without warning and without guidance and without the benefit of my carefully prepared, but unverbalized teachings, SS got things right.

“I’ll go with you,” he texted back.

Um.  Did that just happen?

Better not to ask.  Better, I suppose, to direct my over-thought, unnecessary attention to other things – like some easy-to-assemble Halloween treats.  If only for rising to the occasion, SS deserves them.

Besides, no one else is downstairs right now.  If I head down to the kitchen, I can do my own little happy dance, and no one will be the wiser.  Because I’ve got a kid who, every now and again, despite my very best efforts, knows how to get things right.

Witch Hats, Witch Brooms and Peanut Butter Ghosts

Witch Hats
You’ll only need four ingredients for those sweet treats – Keebler Fudge Striped Cookies, Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses, a can of spray frosting, colored sprinkles.

Unwrap a Kiss for every cookie.  Turn cookies striped side down.  Squirt frosting on bottom of Kiss and stick on the cookie, forming a hat.  Apply sprinkles to excess frosting on top, shaking off the extras.  Let dry.

Witch Brooms
This one only requires two ingredients – thin pretzel sticks and fruit roll-ups.  Unroll one fruit roll-up, cut in 3-inch (approximately) lengths.  (Leave on paper.)  While still on paper, use scissors to cut fruit roll-up into “fringe” (cutting about 2/3 of the way up).  After cutting, remove “fringe” and wrap around end up pretzel stick.  Repeat.

Peanut Butter Ghosts
My kids love this one, but we try to remember that, because of allergies, many of their friends can’t enjoy them.  All you need is one package of Nutter Butter cookies, a bag of white chocolate chips, and some miniature chocolate chips.  Lay cookies out on a sheet of plastic wrap.  Melt some (about half) of the white chocolate chips in the microwave.  Dip cookies, one by one, in melted chips.  (Alternatively, you can brush or spread melted chips on.)  Lay dipped cookies on plastic wrap and use miniature chips as eyes and mouths.  May take a couple of hours to harden.
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