Prom is a four-letter word, perhaps the one word most dreaded by school administrators like me.
After all, apart from graduation, it is the quintessential high school rite of passage and therefore brings forth all sorts of emotions. Prom can lead to temper tantrums, tears, bouts of paranoia and rage. Sadly, I’m not talking about the students attending. Perhaps all I ever needed to know about prom came from watching Carrie back in the 70s. On the eve of the 19th high school prom I have attended, I am waiting for that bucket of blood to fall on my head.
What is it about prom that can bring out the worst in some? Why does one night hold so much power? And shouldn’t we have outgrown our adolescent aggrandizement of a dance? I will be the first to admit I’m not particularly sympathetic to those for whom this night means more. I know many see the prom as a night of beauty, romance, sophistication. I realize that for many people, young and old, it is the one time in your life you look red-carpet ready. Maybe because Prom was neither the magical night to conclude my high school years nor the only time I have looked fabulous, I simply don’t understand. While I have enjoyed the many proms I have organized and/or chaperoned, I wasn’t disappointed when my new boss said our school wouldn’t have a prom. I have endured many an insult and outburst over prom; imagine my chagrin when I realized this year would be no different. Telekinesis would have come in handy this week.
Despite the occasional drama at work, I’m not against prom. As the parent of a little girl, I now see this event differently and I look ahead to the days when I can help my M get ready. In my heart, I know that to give anything, whether it is an event, a person, or an object, so much importance can backfire. In real life, it is a dance, one that requires organization, attention to detail,and the involvement of big bad administrators. Better that I be the target of the negative emotions than the poor kids endure some Stephen King moment.
So I will act professional, look nice, and compliment the kids. And I will look up at the ceiling just in case.