Last weekend my eldest had her School Prom.
Speaks volumes doesn't it? In fact, I'm not actually sure where to start. I could base this post on the fact....
1. that I have a child old enough to go to a prom;
2. that girls who are so young can look so groomed and, let's face it, adult;
3. that the contrast between the physical and mental maturity of the boys and girls is still very marked, even at 16;
4. that we seem to have an entire industry grown up around something that was unheard of on these shores not that many moons ago;
5. that the Prom is a source of mental anguish for almost every girl attending it for months beforehand;
6. that the amount of money spent at this, a very modest Prom, verges on the obscene;
7. that we are buying into the whole celebrity glamour thing by encouraging our daughters to behave like them when they are barely out of puberty.
See? I could go on and on.
I think the reason why I couldn't decide on an angle for this post is because my mind is so mixed on the subject. I was lucky. The whole event seem to pass off with only minimal drama in this house. I gave my eldest a budget three months ago with firm instructions that she had to pay for everything Prom related out of it. How she chose to divide the money was up to her but that was all she was going to get from us.
So she bought a dress and shoes, paid for nails and tan, did her own hair and makeup and bought a space on a bus with a gang of other girls to get her there. The only minor crisis required me to make an emergency dash to the supermarket at Departure Time minus twenty minutes to source more eyelashes, the first lot having come to a sticky end.
And on the night the end result of three months of planning and fretting and hoping was that my daughter looked beautiful, I nearly burst with pride and she had a lovely evening. So what's not to like?
Well, I can't help thinking that a similar amount of fun could be had a more low key celebration of the end of compulsory education. If someone had, before the Prom expectation had been raised, suggested that they all attend an End of School Party in a village hall somewhere.....
But the genie is out of the bottle and we cannot go back. So each year expectations get higher, dresses pricier and grooming more slick. And if this is how high you're aiming at just 16, I can't help but worry that real life is going to be a bit of a disappointment.
On the other hand.....why shouldn't they have a big, fancy blow out at Ilkley's red-carpeted hotel? They've worked hard for five years and now they are on the cusp of starting college, sixth form or work. They are so much more sophisticated than me and my friends were at their age and if that makes them a product of their environment then what's wrong with that? They shouldn't be held back just because no one had invented GHDs when I was 16.
In the end, I have decided not to overthink it all. It is as it is and that is that. And will be that all over again next year when Daughter 2 reaches the end of Year 11. I wonder if they could do a prom for the parents?!