Following is a guest blog from the father of the prom girl and the husband of the prom mom.
When the valet opened the passenger door at the prom venue, I was glad to hear the words “I don’t get to go” come out of Gary’s mouth. Then the back door opened for Alex and her date, we were limo drivers, not attendees. Although the “can I have a hug?” line was met with a “Mommmmm!” All I can say is I was glad it was dark out.
For Moms, it must be very difficult to separate your joy for your daughter’s life events and desire to experience that joy first hand. Nothing else can explain the actions of this Prom Mom, who not only is so deeply bonded, like all moms, with her daughter and the realization of their growing up and pending independence, has those lingering fears like, how will her schoolmates, upon seeing her with a date with Down Syndrome treat/accept/ignore her. Will the music be too loud, will her date handle himself well, who will soothe her if there is a meltdown, etc.
It is very difficult to know what others are thinking or why they react the way they do. Why won’t a girl who watches every teen drama TV show and who thoroughly wants a boyfriend, not want to get dressed up? From the drama of dress buying, not the drama of - that dress is too revealing, but - that dress isn’t fancy enough, to the makeup application scene, (which I missed) but Tommy was so afraid to approach Gary for permission for a night out after seeing her mood, he came to me instead, the importance of an event whose expectations get so high that the potential for disappointment is lurking in the background, Prom Mom is stressmaker. Gary handled a lot of behind the scenes puppeteering, in order to get Alex’s date on board, obtain permission from the school for him to attend as he is over 21, get the night scheduled and accomplished. I felt a little bad for Gary when Alex wouldn’t answer questions about how the night went on the ride home, but her date was still in the car, for goodness sake!
With Alex, events that juxtapose a chronological snapshot with her developmental state pose a great challenge. A desire to fit in, a self-consciousness of her differences, the parental intensity, the amount of attention, her expectations, her understanding of the situation, test her ability to make others do what she wants without telling them and get everything accomplished in the time frame needed.
Alex’s date was charming. Alex was assembled in pretty clothes, make-up and uncomfortable shoes, like all the girls. They dined together, alone in nice restaurant, with the manner of seasoned epicureans. Gary and I sat on the other side of the restaurant, and I am sure her neck is sore from craning over to look their way, although they spied on us as well. As Gary and I enjoyed a nice meal out, we wondered why the parent handbook, handed out to us at the hospital when Alex was born (we wished), didn’t have the chapter explaining how to teach Alex what to do when the girl who has been nice to you for 5 years becomes a boy, I am sure her/his parents wanted that chapter as well, or how to get her to get through life without any difficulties or complications.
Well, as far as I can tell, and I am quite perceptive, Prom day will go down as one of Alex’s best days of her life. Earlier in the day, at the Regional Special Olympics Track Meet, she performed personal bests in all her events, and acted with grace on those she didn’t win. We had the opportunity to drive her prom date home from the meet, he competed as well, and they giggled and chatted the whole 2 hour drive home. We didn’t get the phone call, which has come many times at school functions to get picked up early.
Maybe we should write that missing chapter in the how to parent handbook. We rocked it!