For the last few weeks, I’ve seen a pretty much constant stream of mentions of ‘Proms’ by friends, family and people I barely know. Its all a bit alien to me, with my school days nearly 30 years behind me, but everyone seems to be doing it so I guess it must be the norm now.
Its nice to see the photos of the kids all glammed up and looking forward to their big night out of course, but I’m staggered by the expense that seems to be involved. There’s the all important outfit of course, but then there might be hair, nails (and that’s just the boys) and a limo, and heaven knows what else. It must be a nightmare for parents who are already struggling in these austere times. Probably a nightmare for their children too, if they have to turn up in anything less than a perfect state. Probably also a nightmare for any kids who don’t feel comfortable in that kind of atmosphere because they’re porky, have weird teeth, are introverted or whatever.
I do ‘get’ that its a sort of rite of passage for those leaving school for good at 18; it maybe puts a nice full stop between childhood and becoming an adult. Ah though, it’ll never be like the Prom night in Grease, or even American Pie. On reflection, that probably isn’t a bad thing.
Whilst I appreciate the rite of passage element for the 18 year olds, I’m a bit ‘meh’ about Proms suddenly being a thing for 11 year olds. It just seems to me like more pressure on both parents and kids.
I know I’m coming across as a complete killjoy here, but this is one tradition from across the Atlantic that I’m not altogether keen on. It just seems a little forced and false to me and also, sorry, this isn’t the 1950s and the age of innocence is long gone.
What has struck me today, and it isn’t a Prom thing, is all the posts from parents of children leaving junior school today. I’ve seen pictures of kids in floods of tears and statuses detailing how all the kids are crying through their leavers’ assemblies and so on. I can understand their parents being a bit misty-eyed as their kids are about to take a huge life step, but I’m baffled by the kids being so distraught. Is it because such a big fuss is made maybe? I don’t know. As I said, I’m baffled. Do feel free to be offended, but I’m not at all sure that the Prom thing is suitable for junior school kids. Maybe they’re not mature enough to cope with all the hype and competitiveness.
I have a good memory and I don’t remember anything special about leaving junior school. We probably did what we did on the last day of any school year, namely playing games and being awestruck by the record player in a suitcase that the teacher produced. Oh come on, it WAS 1978; expectations weren’t high. I don’t remember anyone being upset. I suppose we just assumed we’d see each other again.
The leaving do from senior school was a little different. We had extremely civilised sips of wine with the teachers for an hour or two, then the hard core de-camped to what used to be the Vine pub. Its a teetotal social enterprise these days, and I hugely recommend it for lunch, but back then it was a biker pub with live bands in the yard. It wasn’t a quiet night.
For any locals reading this, the Arboretum island was just being finished and the spiky plants (I don’t know what they were, so let’s go with berberis) had been planted. I particularly remember this, because the next morning I had the pleasure of tweezing spikes out of my mate’s jacksy. Her belief in her own athleticism, fuelled by several pints of snakebite, lead her to believe she could vault the pedestrian guard rail easily. She couldn’t, but she fell ever so sweetly like a happy sack of spuds into the berberis. Funnily enough, she couldn’t do it after leaving the school (post wine) either, which lead to her skirt being somewhat indecently ripped and thus her jacksy suffering the berberis attack later on. Happily, she fell in the same spot as she’d fallen earlier and found the purse she’d thought was lost forever.
Back to the subject then. I think leaving school should be celebrated in some way, but I’m going to be an old fart and say noooooo to Prom style events and yessss to ordinary booze ups that don’t cost parents an arm and a leg.
Where do I pick up my old fart badge?