Hannah and I are having a debate of sorts. I strangely worry that her life will somehow be incomplete if she never attends a prom. I guess I’ve watched one too many John Hughes movies one too many times. Anyway, the funny thing is, what I remember most about prom was that I wasn’t asked to attend my sophomore year. I went my junior and senior year but I cannot remember a thing about them–good or bad. I have a hunch that I didn’t have a particularly good time attending prom but do not remember why. (I think I probably fought with my boyfriend during prom–see below).
Hannah tells me there isn’t even anyone she’d really want to go to prom with. She ascribes to the theory presented by one of her teachers, who told the kids that prom was a ridiculous notion of our affluent society. He said that today’s kids spend around $1,000 attending prom (dress, tux, dinner, tickets, renting limo or party bus) and the kids who aren’t in a relationship typically end up attending prom with someone they don’t even really like. Those in a relationship tend to spend prom fighting. Over the years, he has asked students to comment on their enjoyment of prom and indeed, not many have enjoyed it all that much. Hannah observed this theory to be true with her winter formal dance, which she did attend. It was a whole lot of money for very little payback in terms of pleasure. The teacher mentioned above also told the kids that this same amount of money could support numerous families in Africa for a year (did I mention that this class is an ethics/religion/english class all wrapped into one?).
I told Hannah that perhaps she should host an anti-prom fundraising party at our house instead. Not sure that would fly with her friends. Perhaps, like me, we are mostly ingrained to think of Prom as an essential rite of passage. I see further evidence of this by the fact that more parents on Facebook post pictures of their children attending prom than they post even of graduation.
So my question to you reader is whether you think prom is an essential teen rite of passage? Did you attend prom? Do you remember enjoying it? Did it make your life complete? Did you think about the amount of money you spent on the whole event?
When I think about it, the things most worth spending lots of money on have been live concert events. One year, when I was in the front row at Alpine Valley, seeing the Black Crowes and the Dave Matthews Band, I thought, “yes, money can really buy pleasure–but only in this limited circumstance and only for this short amount of time.” I do remember the many great concerts I’ve attended through the years.
Okay, so I’m there. I will no longer give any thought to whether Hannah attends prom. And when everyone is posting pictures of their children attending prom on Facebook, perhaps I will post pictures of Hannah volunteering at Lifeworks, where she has been volunteering with the developmentally disabled this past year. Perhaps volunteering should be the new teen rite of passage.