It was winter and we weren’t going anywhere much that wasn’t absolutely necessary when we found Julia’s prom dress. The Lord & Taylor’s in a nearby mall was closing. We were cutting through that store from our parking space to the Apple store because my laptop was ready to die. My laptop is necessary. Rushing through the store, a short dress with a sequined bodice caught Julia’s eye and she pointed it out as we passed. I agreed it was pretty and then proceeded at due speed to the Apple store.
On the way back to our parking space darting through L&T again, I noticed the dress and this time I asked Julia if she wanted to look at it for prom. At that point we had no idea if and when a prom would happen. I thought in that instant that buying a prom dress would be absolutely aspirational. She still liked the dress and was eager to try it on. It fit and looked very cute (it was also marked down to a very appealing price). It was a promise dress, a hope dress. I couldn’t promise that there would be a prom, we could hope for a prom. And I promised myself that I would find some event sooner or later for which pink sequin would be appropriate.
It has hung on the back of her bedroom door since then. Now and again, I thought it was haunting me. Us. But now, it is just a prom dress.
Newton is not a dance school and this year, had it been a typical year, there would not have been any other dances other than prom, and, had it been a typical year, Julia may have missed the dances at West High School that she so enjoyed in Madison.
From what I hear from other moms, Newton’s prom is usually held in some hotel and is big and traditional. Of course, that was not the plan this year. The plans, prompted by moms intent on making some fun for this graduating class, were fluid for a long time. Less than a month ago, the plan was to have two proms—splitting the class into 250 students each, two hours long for each, limiting attendance to only seniors from North, wearing masks, no food and a big question whether music and/or dancing would be allowed. Who knows what those masked, dance-less seniors would have done? Even for two hours.
Then, two weeks ago with the announcement of the easing of covid restrictions, the prom that Julia went to last night took shape: One prom! Seniors and guests. A party under two tents in front of the school. Music and dancing. No masks!! Food trucks for sustenance.
Julia began the day with a hair appointment which resulted in a very disappointing curly style. The hairdresser, who was not the usual person who cuts her hair and who I really like, did not seem to know the assignment or how to do a prom-do even after explanation. To be truthful, I had only asked for that—something fancy for the prom. I had no idea what to do with her hair which was a huge mistake.
Always, always, always ask for exactly, or near exactly, what you want!!
Julia’s hair was curled with a curling iron but not much product was used to keep those curls in place for the duration of the evening. The hairdresser argued with me that what she used was sufficient, but sure enough, by the time we finished lunch, there was very little curl left and Julia did not want to go back to the salon. So we went home and I re-curled using our curling iron and a little bit of my hair body cream product. There is probably something much better to use for keeping curls in but we didn’t have it at home. I swept some of the hair up, secured it with the pearl decorations that she used for Cheshire’s wedding and curled some more. The result was more pleasing to her and to me. Just a fancy do for the prom.
She put on just a bit of makeup—brow liner, cheek shine and lipstick—and then it was time for her dress and very shiny shoes. Momma took pictures in front of the house, and we went to meet two school mates to take some pictures together. Getting those young folks together, something that was so easy when Cheshire was prom going, something that looks so effortless in the Facebook pictures posted by proud parents from Indianapolis, Madison and Newton. Our gathering was not so easy. Julia and her peers are not the ones to reach out and organize themselves without help, and HIPAA forbids the easy gathering of family names and contact information. And so, I began a few weeks ago, asking the PTB to get in touch with other families with seniors in the sped programs to see if we could get together for pictures before the prom. The request with my contact information was filtered through Julia’s inclusion facilitator to other inclusion facilitators to families. It took many requests (and from what I heard from another mom, many of her requests as well) until this last week two families got in touch and the three of us met and took a few pictures pre-prom.
Side note: It has been and still is a complicated challenge to get to know other parents of kids receiving sped services. On Saturday, I met two families who are as starved as I am for community. This is a problem. And one that does not seem any better in Newton where there is a very active SEPAC, as well as in Madison where advocacy is less formal. It is a problem that we need to address and solve.
Julia’s attention span and/or patience for pictures was very short, but we got a few.
After pictures, it was on to the prom. I was able to drop Julia off with one of the sped teachers who was appropriately prom dressed and she was off. When I came back at 9 pm to help give out the “swag bags,” everyone was dancing. From what I heard, Julia dance all night and didn’t both eating at all. She told me that she did stop once when she was very thirsty. It was so very nice to see so many happy faces and so much dance floor activity. Julia saw me and actually came to see me which was incredibly mature of her. In the past, and it is the deep past of Madison, she would catch sight of me at a dance and run the other way.
She stayed until the end, comfortable where she was. She came home with me, wanted to put on pjs and get to bed. It all went very well and I was very grateful.