“Creative ways to ask a girl to homecoming” read the text in the search box when I sat down to use my son’s computer a few nights ago. Image after image of creativeness filled the screen. I looked at a few and was amazed at both the creativity and the abundance of ideas that were shown. Talk about pressure. Like asking a girl out for the first time wasn’t hard enough. Like asking out a girl when they are all taller than you are isn’t hard enough. Now you had to coordinate the entire student body doing a flash mob when the girl of your dreams walked into the cafeteria or rent a billboard or buy several hundred t-shirts and ask the entire student body to wear one…all to ask for a date. It made my heart happy that my sweet boy was trying to do something so far out of his comfort zone but it also made me sad at the pressure he must be feeling.
I didn’t say anything—hard to believe isn’t it? A few days later he said something about wanting to ask a gymnast to homecoming. After reminding myself that this was a first date, nothing to get alarmed about, I asked who and how and where…no need to ask the why. In the incredibly detailed way only an 14 year old boy can communicate he said he planned to ask somebody that knew her for pictures of her doing gymnastic stuff like flipping around and vaguely mentioned ‘I would flip if you would go to homecoming with me.’ I kept it light and told him to let me know if he needed any help. I refrained from adding “like help formulating an actual plan”.
When he didn’t mention it again (and my tongue hurt from biting it so much to keep from mentioning it) I eventually casually asked if he was going to homecoming. He grumbled and mumbled something about it only being a grind fest and that he didn’t want any part of it. After getting him to explain what he thought a grind fest (he knew), I paused. Was I really about to encourage my 14 year old son to attend what he referred to as a grind fest? I was. I reminded him that he had 4 homecomings. Four. That’s it. I encouraged him to go. As he walked away with slumped shoulders I kicked myself. His dejection probably meant he had asked and was denied or that he was too afraid to ask a girl. I took that opportunity to tell him that I never had a date to homecoming and that I had to go with my friend, Kathy Gooch. Yeah, he didn’t understand my point either.
A few days later by a miracle of logistics I had him alone in the car. I asked, again very casually, about his plans to ask someone. Sullenly he repeated that he wasn’t going. I threw out a few girls names that I knew he was friends with and wondered aloud if he wanted to ask one of them to go ‘as friends’. No response. Guess taking a friend to a grindfest isn’t what he had in mind. My son LOVES the ladies and the ladies love him right back. Unfortunately he loves, loves them and they love him like they would a big stuffed animal-cuddly and cute and something to make them smile. They don’t take him seriously. I sensed he had gotten his heart hurt. Despite my nature to cross examine I let it go. Despite my nature to try and fix things that are broken I did nothing. There was nothing I could do but silently hurt for him.
As only teenagers can do he rapidly changed his mind the next day. Out of the blue he announced that he was going to the dance. Stag. A friend of his, his best friend, didn’t have a date either and they were both going just to hang out. WAHOO. I wanted him to have a high school experience. I jumped into action. In a week full of multiple evening practices and days filled with long to-do list there was literally and hour and a half in which I could shop before the dance. I was a mom on a mission. I had time for 2 stores and money for only the basics. My goal– to make him look like a trendy BA who was confident and smooth who would stroll into the gym like he owned the place. Lofty goal for 1.5 hours and a tight budget. His goal(s)-they were extensive. Can’t be too preppy ‘cause the preps are D-bags. Pause: mommy moment. First of all I carefully explained what a d-bag was the first time he used this lovely phrase and told him if he was going to use it he was damned sure going to know what it meant. Second-one of the bullies that caused him immortal hell in 8th grade is in this group. I am willing to forgive this particular slur this time due to extenuating circumstances. Next-it couldn’t be black because that is goth. It couldn’t be too churchy or too flashy. It couldn’t be….I interjected at this point. “Geez dude I don’t think they make dressy athletic shorts and t-shirts. We might have to branch out a little.”
Through text messages and sheer miracles we managed to put together something that he likes. Whew.
Homecoming-game-eve there was a bonfire. He decides to go. I take him up to the school. He’s always been a talker but the amount of words that came out of that boy’s mouth in the 5 mile ride was record breaking. At one point I glanced over to see if he was blue from lack of oxygen and he was clenching and unclenching his hands. OH MY GOD he was nervous and scared. I about wrecked the car. I about turned around. I about reached over and hugged him. I about cried. Luckily, I did none of those. I just asked if he was nervous. “Nervous?” he scoffed, “it’s a bonfire mom, what is there to be nervous about?” his shaking voice gave him away.
The high school parking lot is bigger than most malls lots. I am intimidated just getting INTO the school. Getting my nervous boy to the right place so he doesn’t look like a freshman goober takes my fretting to a whole ‘nother level. I fretted about where to go until he pointed out the large, red FIRETRUCK positioned next to the pile of pallets. Guess that answered that question. Trying to respect his need for coolness I drove to what I thought would be a discreet drop off place. Too bad I didn’t notice the gaggle of cheerleader’s right beside the lot before I pulled in. Opps. I pulled up so that he wasn’t getting out right in the middle of them. He sat there. I sat there. “Where are you going? Do you want me to drive you around until you see someone you know?” He pointed to a small group of girls, “I know them. I’ll go hang out with them.” Just as he said it a pick-up truck loaded down with what appeared to be the entire football team pulled up. Stocky-beefy jocks jumped out and descended on the little group of girls. “It’s the football team!” I said perhaps a bit too cheerfully. He eyed me, “Football players don’t exactly like swimmers, mom.” I knew that already-hence the extreme level of forced cheerfulness. He opened the door to get out. “Where are you going?” I asked, perhaps a bit too frantically. “Geez mom, you are more worried about this than I am. I am going to be fine. I am going right over there. It will be fine mom.” He closes the door and makes his way to the group.
Immediately one of the boys throws an empty coke bottle at him. In play or in rudeness? I didn’t know but there was no way in hell I was pulling away until I figured it out. They do not want me getting out of this car if they are being men to my man. My little guy with his hat backwards, his cargo shorts and his red tennis shoes stops and nonchalantly picked up the bottle. He then continues toward the group. “GO momma GO,” said my cranky toddler from the back. “Not until I make sure bubba is okay,” I answer. I guess it’s a good thing I had to answer her since I had been holding my breath this entire time. She looks out the window and says, “he fine” and urged me to go. Having not been to high school she had no idea of the panicked, nerve racking, terror inducing flashbacks I was experiencing. I waited.
Pretending to be using my phone, I cut my eyes to watch as he joined the group. I resisted the urge to roll down the windows to hear what was happening. “He fine Momma. He fine,” said his biggest fan from the back. As I spied I saw him strike a funny pose making one of the girls laugh. The boys didn’t seem to be paying him any mind. Did that bother him? I wondered. Seeing no signs of violence or direct shunning of my sweet fella I finally got the car into gear and drove slowly away. I am lucky I didn’t hit some teen since I had my eyes in the rearview mirror the entire time.
That was the bon-fire—the pre-event. He’s still got the game and the dance to attend. If I overreacted to the bonfire how in the world am I going to survive his going to the game and then going, alone, to the dance? As much as I want to I can’t tell him to forget homecoming and just come home…can I?