Monday, March 18, 2013


Saturday Lilly went to the Turnabout Dance in Glenview. That is the dance where the girls ask the boys. We called it Sadie Hawkins where I grew up but it's just another reason to have a formal dance and that's all good.

There are a lot of customs and rituals to follow for THE BIG DANCE and I realized that between our three kids and all the high school dances this was the 13th time around for Jeff and me which one might think makes us kind of experts.

I will share how things usually go from the parents' point of view.

1. For weeks before the big dance there will be much drama about who asked whom and who said yes and how the boy was asked. If you have a girl you will hear about this ad nauseum until your ears bleed. If you have a boy you will not even know there is a dance until just a few days before when he announces he needs a sport coat and a corsage.

2. There will be more drama as your girl searches for the perfect dress, shoes, and hairstyle. If you have a boy there will be much drama as you try to drag his dis-interested ass to the store and get him to try on a sport coat.

If you are lucky, your girl will agree to wear a dress already in the house from previous events or siblings. Just make sure the dress still fits, as in covers all her parts sufficiently. Trust me on this one--this is a mistake anyone can make--even if this is not their first time around.

3. For Turnabout the girls do the planning. Actually, they do the planning for all the dances. If done properly, this will involve restaurant reservations and spreadsheets to figure out who is driving whom (or a party bus ordered).

A wise mom (Carrie O) advised me early on NOT to get involved in any of this process. A bossy girl always takes care of this.

This is excellent advice. Just make sure your daughter did not volunteer to organize rides but did not actually do that and you don't find out until the picture-taking when a mom asks you for the driving schedule that your daughter did (but didn't really). Trust me, this could happen to anyone, even if they've done this a few times.

4. Picture-taking: This is where you go to someone's house or a public venue (like the Park District lobby) so you can take pictures of the 20 or so kids in your kid's group. You will only know one or two of the kids and one or two of the parents.

There is a lot of energy as everyone is anxious, looking around to see if they are properly dressed, and hoping to fit in. The kids are a little nervous too.

You will take a picture of your kid and his/her date as they try to figure out how to put a wrist corsage on or worse pin one on a lapel. Mom will end up pinning the corsage.

If you are lucky, the mother hosting the picture-taking assumes the role of assembling the kids for pictures. If you are unlucky no one will assume this roll and you will stand around a lot until a bossy girl takes over.

If you are really unlucky, the mom-host will see the entire evening as a photo-shoot followed by that annoying dinner and dance. After about 20 minutes of this nonsense (we remember one in particular where the girls were asked to jump up and down, now dance crazy, now put your hands like a get the idea) feel free to leave.

You will take several pictures of your kid and his/her date as they stand awkwardly together because most of them go as "just friends".

Then you are obliged to take a group shot of all the girls. This takes forever as they come up with ridiculous formations to show off their finery.

Finally someone wil have all the kids line up.

At some point you will take a picture or two of the boys altogether. Or not.

You will post one or two of these on Facebook. The rest you will delete.

5. And finally: You and your husband will go for a much-deserved cocktail and discuss how grown up the girls looked and how lost the boys looked. You will note which girl was dressed most inappropriately --as in not proper coverage--and hopefully it will not be your own daughter. But I am not saying that will always be the case, even if you are a veteran.

So that's pretty much how it goes. And even when you think you sort of understand how it goes, things can go awry. Which is true of all great parenting ventures so why would this be any different?

If you got to be a part of this fun ritual last week, I hope you had as much fun as we did. The kids? Oh yeah, I think they had fun too.


  1. So funny...especially the comparisons between the boys' and girls' preparations for the big event. As a parent I would be lost, makes me grateful my kids grew up in Europe sans le Big Dance.

  2. Full of insights--a few of which are just a bit late for me. Ben went to Homecoming, and while he did ask the girl out, apparently she and her friends organized the rest. Only Ben kept getting bits of it very last-minute. No, we aren't going out to dinner. (Afternoon of the dance--"turns out we're going to her friends' boyfriends' parents house for photos. At 6. I don't know whether I should eat first or not..." After the dance: "turns out we ate dinner at friends' boyfriends' parents house. They were conservative and hated Obama." I got only one photo because Ben said he'd have someone take them on his phone. They look like they barely know each other, and if you didn't know better, you'd swear the girls were each others' dates and the boys were accoutrements. So last week was Sadie Hawkins (as it's still called here). Ben went, looking sharp, but I don't know whether a girl asked him out or he just went with a group of friends. I think he had no date but apparently that's okay. It's a good thing he's easy going and fairly confident. If he were neurotic I would be very little help.

    1. Amy, I am glad Ben goes with or without dates. My kids have all done that too and it's so much better than the olden days when we waited around hoping to be asked! Too funny that he did not even know if dinner was involved!

  3. Thanks for the spot on account of how these events go. My husband and I hosted the pre Homecoming dance event at our home. Since we were in the middle of the World Series and the Giants were playing (we live in the Bay Area) the husbands were useless. Us moms laughed til we cried at the lost boys and allowed ourselves to be ordered around by the bossy girls in charge!
    p.s I have know your Lilly's date since he was a baby! Time flies!

    1. Thanks, Rebecca! And thanks for reading. I have known that little boy almost as long! And yes, time flies.Glad to know things are the same all around the country.

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