Between skipping dinners at fancy restaurants and driving themselves rather than the limos featured in every movie about proms in ‘middle class’ America, Thing1’s and SuperGal/SeriousGirlfriend’s prom expenses hover far below the $1000+ average we hear about on the news.
Even the least expensive tux rental, however is a budget buster for us. Last year Thing 1 was tall and broad enough that we altered his dad’s tux down to fit him. This year he’s 60 pounds lighter but still has his prom and hers to go to.
I finally break down and buy him a suit that can go to prom and beyond, but it isn’t just about the money.
The two of them haven’t seen each other much this winter. She was under the weather in April. He’s been trying to have a complete week of school since two days after Christmas. The last week or two, we’ve juggled his medications a few more times. Tonight he has enough energy to drive the two of them in our 20-year-old Volvo wagon.
Her mom and I are feeling unusually normal. We snap as many pictures as we can fit in our phone and camera. The kids smile at us and each other the entire time, exchanging tolerant glances as their moms and dads laugh and cry and wonder aloud where the time went.
SuperGal playfully pretend-jabs Thing1 in the chest when he makes a joke intended to provoke the females.
“Careful,” he laughs. “That’s near my bleeding intestine.”
My antennae go up.
“I thought we were done with this,” I want to say.
He was done with this morning. Now, apparently, it’s back.
I don’t go to bed early on any prom night. Until the key turns in the door, I’ll be mentally replaying every news story of every kid that’s been in a prom-related car accident (even though I’ve been comparatively calm when he drives to work at night through most of the Nor-Easters we had this winter).
This prom night when he walks in the door, I’ll ask him if they had fun. Who did they see? Was the music good? Did you have snacks?
The question that has to come, that has become part of our new normal, will have to wait until morning. Whatever the answer will be, it will not become part of his memory of this night.