Friday Freebie: “Boorito” and More from Chipotle Restaurants

If you or your children are fun (or brave) enough to wear a costume just about anywhere you go this weekend, there’s bound to be a prize, discount or 2-for-1 waiting for you, as retailers have fun with Halloween. And not always “just any costume”—in an effort to promote awareness of eating “fresh”, Chipotle restaurants are offering $2 burritos from 6 p.m. to midnight on Halloween to anyone who arrives dressed as a “horrific processed food item”.  And for my Uncool Mom readers, they’re offering Halloween goodies as well: one lucky reader will win a gift card good for one free Chipotle burrito, burrito bowl, salad or order of tacos; and another will win a gift card good for an order of Chipotle chips & guacamole. Just send a note to patricia@uncoolmom.com with “Boorito” in the subject line, between now and Halloween night (that would be Sunday, Oct. 31st for those of you “furriners”) at midnight.  In the body of the email, write the answer to this question: If you could dress up as any kind of processed food, what would it be? I’ll draw winners and then ask them for names and addresses.  I’ll announce the winners in the comments section of this post, on Monday morning, Nov. 1st. 


Traditionally each Halloween, Chipotle asks customers to dress up as their favorite Chipotle menu item (i.e. wrap yourself in aluminum foil) for a free burrito, so the focus on fresh ingredients and anti-processed food is something new.   (Hmmm…could it be they can finally do that now that McDonald’s doesn’t own them anymore?!) All proceeds (up to $1 million) from this Sunday’s  “Boorito 2010: The Horrors of Processed Food” will benefit Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, a ca
mpaign to get people to cook again and to replace processed food with fresh, unprocessed meals at home, in schools and in restaurants. Seems like a perfect pairing for Chipotle, as their food offerings now include naturally raised meats (from animals that are not given antibiotics or added hormones); local and organically grown produce; and dairy products made with milk from cows that are not treated with the synthetic hormone rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone).


If you do stop by Chipotle in costume on Sunday, be sure to snap a photograph of yourself, as they’re also having an online photo contest of “the most horrifying processed food costume”.  To enter, customers can take a photo in their costumes at a Chipotle restaurant on Halloween and post it online at chipotle.com/boorito. One grand prize winner will receive $2,500, with five runners up getting $1,000 each. Twenty honorable mention winners will receive a burrito party for 20 guests at the Chipotle location of their choice.

Happy Halloween!

 

 

 

 

 

Whose Fundraiser Is It, Anyway?

I got out of bed this morning with feet that ached so badly, I had to “hobble” across the bedroom floor. Was it age finally setting in? No, just fundraiser burnout.  I worked 3 ½ hours yesterday morning at a drill team bake sale, 4 ½ hours in the afternoon at the elementary school carnival/auction, and an hour and a half selling “latecomer” tickets at a high school choir concert. I definitely wore the wrong shoes.

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about fundraisers lately, and not just because my feet are screaming at me. In fact, every year, most parents mull the pros and cons of fundraising if they have children involved in anything outside of the family. Scouts, sports teams, bands, church youth, public school, private school- every group associated with kids is raising money, fall and spring, all over America, usually at the same time.  Just this month, the Boy Scouts have been selling popcorn; football players are selling coupon books; the high school band had a march-a–thon; there’s a fundraising car wash and garage sale just about every weekend; and numerous groups have been having fundraising nights at local eateries—in addition to carnivals, auctions, bazaars, home tours, and bake sales. Each girl on Allison’s drill team was recently required to sell 50 $1 sweepstakes tickets; each family was responsible for soliciting three $10 gift card/certificate donations for the sweepstakes; each family had to bake (and I mean bake—no store-bought items allowed) six large items for the bake sale (and we were given a sheet of instructions as to what the definition of “large” is) and each parent and drill team member was required to work two three-hour shifts at this weekend’s arts and crafts bazaar/bake sale (Andy is grateful one of his shifts involved doing something “manly”, marking off vendor booth space with electrical tape.) Oh, and each family was required to shop for, and donate, 72 bottles/cans of water and soda.  If parents don’t do their part, their daughter receives a demerit (a.k.a. point deduction that can eventually lead to the girl getting kicked off the team.)  When I asked someone in charge what happens if the child doesn’t sell 50 sweepstakes tickets (Allison only sold 6), I was told we had to write a check for the difference.  “But make sure to put your name on all those ticket stubs if you do!” I had to smile as I turned in my baked goods and the bake sale chairperson said, “Great! That will be one merit for your daughter.” Drill team members earn merits (points added) when they do something good. Um, I took off a whole day of work to bake those 36 chocolate chunk cookies, 12 blueberry-flax muffins, 12 giant peanut butter cups, 2 pans of Banana Nut Cheerios bars and 1 chocolate chip cookie pie…don’t I get a merit, too?

 

I’ve got to honestly admit that it never occurred to me to ask Allison, or require Allison, to help me bake those items.  I’ve always looked at most fundraisers as something kids don’t have time to do any more—with homework and extracurriculars, if my kids have extra time, I want them to be cleaning their rooms or doing something else to help around the house.  Also, I figure funds for drill team uniforms and choir trips are going to eventually come out of my pocket, so what’s wrong with me doing most of the fundraising work in order to save a buck?

 

Plenty, I’m starting to realize.  It just worsens that sense of entitlement so many teens have these days, which is crippling to their future adulthood, and hurts their character.  And I’ve been feeling a “teen entitlement wave” coming at me from Allison a lot lately.  There’s been a lot of “do this-buy that-drive me here-take me there” attitude without much in return.

Chores are being half-done, if at all; clothes from vacation are still mounded in a pile on her bedroom floor three weeks later; grades in science and math are dismal; sass and back talk have reached new levels of cut-to-the-core viciousness.  Meanwhile, her school choir is planning an optional trip to Disney World for April and they recently had an Innisbrook gift sale…her one customer was me, and it took me a half hour just to input the order online.

 

As luck would have it, I just happened to be talking to a wise parent last weekend, a seasoned AFS host mom, also with two girls of her own, who long ago got fed up and decided that if her kids expected to go on expensive band or choir trips, they would be required to earn a certain percentage of the cost through the fundraisers provided and through doing odd jobs. Wow– why didn’t no-nonsense anti-helicopter me think of that?  Suddenly, all those magazine and cookie dough fundraisers I used to despise looked a whole lot better.  Because it doesn’t matter if you like what they’re selling or if your kid is “too busy to sell”.  If they really want to go, they’ll find a way to “move the product”, if it’s a requirement.  And in the age of modern technology, it’s not that time-consuming for them to send a mass e-mail to friends and family, a mass text, or (No way, Mom!) personal phone calls.  Just like with any sale, they just might learn something about goal setting, marketing and promotions.  And if the kid doesn’t want to put forth the effort toward raising part of the cost, then they really don’t want to go that badly, and the parents can save money. (And, if the product doesn’t sell, then the organization needs to re-think its fundraising efforts—with input from the kids!!)

 

At first I thought this newfound strategy would be wasted regarding the choir trip, since the Innisbrook fundraiser has ended (and we don’t have many lucrative “odd jobs” for Allison to do). But, God bless ‘em, the choir booster club moms just announced another fundraiser—fresh poinsettias.  And I’ve already told Allison that she has to sell 15 in order to go on the Disney trip. 

 

So far, no effort has been made on her part, and the orders are due Friday.  I don’t think she thinks I’m serious.  But I am.  Because if anyone in this family should be “entitled” to something right now, it’s not her– it’s me.

Bullish About Anti-Bullying Program

We humans may have found a vaccine for Polio, landed a man on the moon and invented the Twinkie, but we sure have a long way to go in getting a handle on school bullying, don’t you think? Just like our parents did many years ago, modern parents still (unless we are rabid helicopter parents) just shrug our shoulders and say, “That’s human nature” and tell our kids to “stand tall” if they are teased/bullied.  More phrases in the time-worn parent anti-bullying arsenal include “Be tough”, “Walk away”, and “Laugh it off”.  I’ve used that advice and given that advice—growing up, I was teased relentlessly about being short, and my youngest child, Emmie, has faced the same taunts for years.  I once had a “friend” who convinced the entire class not to speak to me for several days; Emmie has a “friend” who routinely informs her (in front of others) that she’s the worst dressed in the whole class. I tell her she shouldn’t be friends with people who treat her badly and that there will always be people who find fun in putting down others.  But is it really “normal” to have bullies? Aren’t we hurting both the perpetrators and victims by not showing them another way?

Oh, sure, many schools (including Emmie’s) give anti-bullying lessons taught by a counselor and instituted a “no-bullying” policy a decade ago (kids are supposed to tell their teacher if they’ve been bullied), but that has worked about as great as the “This is A Gun Free Zone” sign posted near the carpool lanes.  Bullying still continues, and the school once went on lock down when a crazed man roamed the neighborhood with a rifle.  Kids, of course, feel that if they tell a teacher that they’ve been bulllied, they’ll be labeled a tattletale and bullied further, and those who have gone ahead and come forward are often intimidated by the fact that they have to immediately miss valuable class time while they’re called to the counselor’s office for a face-to-face with the perpetrator, a “let’s all talk about our feelings” session.  Not comfortable at all.  And if a parent decides to “go the other route” and talk to the perpetrator’s parents, you always run the risk that you will encounter a parent who gets defensive, or over-reacts and over-punishes their child, or who puts the blame back on your own child.  Not worth the time or trouble.  

But the “engineer” in me says some kind of solution/prevention/intervention has got to be worth it, because the playing field has recently been taken to a whole new level thanks to the misuse of the Internet (and the glorification of that misuse in popular movies). Before when we told our kids to just “walk away”, or ignore hurtful words, they could, but now bullying can follow them right into their homes, even their cars, thanks to hateful texting, webcams and Facebook “polls”, where a kid posts someone’s photo and then asks everyone to “weigh in”.  And suddenly, zillions of people are laughing and taunting you rather than just the 20 or so in your classroom.  Combine that magnitude of embarrassment with the typical low self-esteem present in many kids/teens and tragedy is inevitable.  The college student who recently jumped to his death off the George Washington Bridge is just the latest of many suicides connected to Internet bullying.  

As I pondered this yesterday, I remembered hearing a presentation last year by Jill Darling, the director of student assistance programs for our school district. Richardson ISD was the first district in the U.S. to try out an anti-bullying program a couple years ago at a few schools, a program that had started in England, and Jill told of “amazing” results at the pilot schools.  Jill was “on fire” for it.  Her enthusiasm was contagious, and I remember how she said it was building bridges not only between peers but cross-generational as well, between grades. I dug out my notes and looked up the program online (click here to see what I found). 
Called R time, at first glance it looks like just another typical anti-bullying curriculum. But a quote from a child participant, listed on the R time UK website, caught my eye: “Thanks to R time, I now have friends I don’t even like!”  I called Jill to see if the program was still going, and how it’s doing.

Not only is R time going well in our district, but it’s catching on in several more—31 districts and 144 schools participate in Texas at present count, and a Midwest contingent is starting as well.  R time’s secret may lie in the fact that it really doesn’t talk about bullying much—it focuses more on simply getting along, and has kids pair off and discuss random topics.  For elementary kids, the question might be “What would you do if you couldn’t use shampoo or a hairbrush for a week?” For junior high kids, it might be, “What would you do if you discovered a boyfriend/girlfriend was seeing someone else behind your back?” (Suddenly I’m reminded of The Ungame —anyone remember that blast from the 70’s?) Jill said when teachers and staff get trained and really take it to heart, the results are good—principals, for example, compare the number of students disciplined for bullying issues pre- R time and post R time, and the decrease is dramatic.  Children tell her of becoming friends with people who had been their enemies for years. Jill told me that the Dallas Morning News recently printed not one but two articles about R time (we were on vacation when they were published): one in which reporter Jeffrey Weiss visited an R time classroom; and a post from columnist Jacque Floyd.  Jeffrey’s article is full of positive statistics; Jacque describes R time as “No finger-wagging lectures, no corny and marginally embarrassing caring-and- sharing exercises, no expensive materials – just informal random pairings of kids, with a little friendly get-to-know-you time governed by a straightforward set of behavior rules… instead of a well-meaning-but- overbearing mandate to be nice, it creates the low-pressure opportunity for nice to occur.”


I think R time sounds like good news.  It may not be a cure-all, but it’s the only thing I’ve seen address the problem with any measurable amount of success.  I hope Emmie’s school is next on the list to try it out, because I know the 6th grade girls could use it.  Right now.  Emmie has been coming home every day with tales of betrayal and backstabbing, and I’m wondering how anyone can learn math, science or anything else with all that drama going on.  Monday, a “friend” said to her, in front of others, “How much did your mom pay you to wear that today?” and Tuesday, she got in the car with tears in her eyes because she’s being teased by a “friend” about not wearing a bra yet.  And all I could offer was, just don’t be friends with people who treat you badly (and be very, very glad you don’t have to wear a bra yet…).

 

Permanent Vacation

            Manatee and calf
We had a great vacation, but like Emmie says, the packing and traveling parts are the worst.  And the unpacking.  And, I would have to add, the “vacation withdrawal”.  Oh, I’m glad to be back with my sweet dog and my comfortable bed, healthier food and not getting lost everywhere we drive…but when you’ve had a wonderful time being away, getting back to reality is tough.
 

I once got the brilliant idea, after we’d just returned from a family trip to Xcaret in Mexico, of trying to live life like we’re always on vacation, so the “come down” wouldn’t be such a bummer. I wondered, ‘Why do we do things so differently when we’re away from home?’ and remembered a book I once read, Living A Beautiful Life, by Alexandra Stoddard. It talked about doing little things every day to treat yourself special, you know, like not saving the good dishes just for guests.  So I got up early to try to see the sunrise from our front porch, just like on vacation…I read the newspaper outside on the backyard patio for a change.  I served dinner buffet style, just like at the resort where our family had stayed.  But old routines soon set in.  The house needed to be cleaned, and groceries needed to be bought, and where can I see a decent sunrise in the suburbs, anyway?

This time, I haven’t even tried to soften the blow. I just close my eyes while I’m waiting in the carpool line at school, and remember.  It’s hard to believe that almost exactly 3 days ago, I was underwater, face-to-face with a baby manatee, and swimming freely with several more manatees in Kings Bay, near Crystal River, Florida…

Maybe the best way for me to get through vacation withdrawal is to download all my photos and decide what I’m going to do with them. Print them and put them in frames? Make a scrapbook page? Post some to the blog? (I promise they’ll be better than the ones I posted from the road.)  Or maybe the best antidote is to start planning our next adventure—even if it’s probably a long way in the future.  At least I take comfort in knowing that there will be a next adventure, whether it’s an hour away or a day away…because as I’ve said before, traveling together is one of the best things that any family can do. 

True, no trip, especially with kids, is ever perfect.  We did have whiny, unruly passengers with us sometimes (including our wacked-out, mentally challenged GPS, Juanita) and the second hotel where we stayed left much to be desired (should have paid more attention to the negative commentors on TripAdvisor.com).  But the fact that we all bonded more, especially with Cleo (who knew that she had such a great sense of humor?) is worth every cold Danish pastry and uncomfortable airplane seat you can throw my way.  We left as two parents with two daughters and a foreign exchange student– we came back as one family.

Sunday Scrapbook: Florida Done Better

Yes, Virginia, there is more to Florida than theme parks. And I’m not a native Floridian or getting paid to promote Florida, but when you take time to plan a Florida family vacation and travel far, and spend your hard-earned money, and always keeping in mind that you may never visit again, don’t you want to give your kids a broader education than just Mickey Mouse?  This is our second trip to Florida with kids in tow and each time I’ve tried hard to answer that question, YES! The first time, in addition to the House of Mouse, we added an evening at a place called Pirate’s Dinner Adventure, drove around Orlando and explored the Disney-designed utopia known as Celebration, and drove only 40 minutes to the Atlantic Ocean and Canaveral National Seashore, where we played on the beach and got to see a rocket take off.  It’s especially important this time around, since we have a foreign exchange student living with us, so this time, we’re spending one day at Universal in Orlando and the rest of the trip, at Amelia Island to the east, and swimming with manatees to the west.  In only four days.  Here is the first photo from our excursions– Happy 10-10-10!

                                      

                        Emmie and Andy check out the Atlantic Ocean
                        after sunrise on Amelia Island, Florida, 10-10-10.

One Day On Earth: What Will You Be Doing on 10-10-10?

I once mentioned the book A Day in the Life of America in a blog post, a popular book of photographs taken across the U.S. all on the same day, 5/2/86.  What I didn’t mention was how much I like that concept, of recognizing all the things that can happen at the same time on one day, or at one moment.  My children and I have even played a “Right Now” game a few times instead of a bedtime story, where we each take turns trying to think of something that’s no doubt happening somewhere at that very moment.  “Right now, someone is waking up and starting a new job.”  “Right now, someone is being born.”  “Right now, someone is watching a movie…” you get the idea.  It’s fun (and intriguing), because we know we’re all probably right. 

 

Books like A Day in the Life of America also capture the beauty in the ordinary, to which I always give a big thumbs up.

 

So you can see why I’m excited about the One Day on Earth project, happening on 10-10-10. If you haven’t heard of it before, it’s a planned “global video snapshot” of a 24-hour period on earth, with people shooting video all across the globe.  Anyone can participate by heading to www.onedayonearth.org.  Portions of the footage will be made into a feature-length documentary to be released next year, and all the footage will be available in an online archive.  Everyone from teenagers with cell phones to Academy Award-nominated filmmakers are expected to take part (so far, it looks like about 5,000 people in the U.S. are on board).  The One Day on Earth website says, “All are welcome to participate; the greater the quality and quantity of participation, the greater our impact on society.” Well, I’m not sure what kind of impact that will be—I just think it will be fascinating.

 

I’ve applied to be one of the participants, and am waiting to see if I get approved.  In the meantime, I better re-learn how to work that family video camera again…

One Day On Earth: What Will You Be Doing on 10-10-10?

I once mentioned the book A Day in the Life of America in a blog post, a popular book of photographs taken across the U.S. all on the same day, 5/2/86.  What I didn’t mention was how much I like that concept, of recognizing all the things that can happen at the same time on one day, or at one moment.  My children and I have even played a “Right Now” game a few times instead of a bedtime story, where we each take turns trying to think of something that’s no doubt happening somewhere at that very moment.  “Right now, someone is waking up and starting a new job.”  “Right now, someone is being born.”  “Right now, someone is watching a movie…” you get the idea.  It’s fun (and intriguing), because we know we’re all probably right. 

 

Books like A Day in the Life of America also capture the beauty in the ordinary, to which I always give a big thumbs up.

 

So you can see why I’m excited about the One Day on Earth project, happening on 10-10-10. If you haven’t heard of it before, it’s a planned “global video snapshot” of a 24-hour period on earth, with people shooting video all across the globe.  Anyone can participate by heading to www.onedayonearth.org.  Portions of the footage will be made into a feature-length documentary to be released next year, and all the footage will be available in an online archive.  Everyone from teenagers with cell phones to Academy Award-nominated filmmakers are expected to take part (so far, it looks like about 5,000 people in the U.S. are on board).  The One Day on Earth website says, “All are welcome to participate; the greater the quality and quantity of participation, the greater our impact on society.” Well, I’m not sure what kind of impact that will be—I just think it will be fascinating.

 

I’ve applied to be one of the participants, and am waiting to see if I get approved.  In the meantime, I better re-learn how to work that family video camera again…

Homecoming 101

 

                  Double-bear mum top.  Is there really a mum in there?

North Texas parents of young kids, start saving your money now if you want your child to “fit in” in high school. And if your child happens to be a girl, take out a second mortgage on your house.  Because if high school is “over the top” now, and this is a down economy, what’s it going to be like in ten or fifteen years?

 

 


Now that I have two girls in high school, a sophomore (Allison) and a junior (Cleo), and it’s Homecoming Week, I’m getting quite the education.  In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, pull up a chair. Er, I mean a desk. 

Class is in session. Take out your textbook and turn to the first page.

 

Introduction- High School Homecoming

This was a tradition that started in Missouri in 1891 that happens in the fall, when high schools invite their alumni to attend a Friday night football game, and a special dance for the students is held, usually the Saturday night after the game.  A queen, and sometimes a king, are crowned at either the game or the dance. The dance is often held in the school gym.  Some schools crown royalty for each grade.  During the “Spirit Week” leading up to the game and dance, lots of extra posters and decorations usually adorn the school, and at some schools, like ours, the students and teachers wear costumes to school based on a theme that changes daily. Some schools hold parades.

 

Chapter 1- Groups
(Huh? There’s more? Didn’t the intro pretty much cover it?)

 

Somewhere along the way, someone got the idea to encourage kids to go to the dance in groups.  That way, people can have fun and still go without having to be asked, without having a “date”.  And even the date pairs can group up. Not a bad idea.  Then someone got it in their head to have everyone in their group wear the same color T-shirt on the day of the game. Then others started doing the same.  Then a group decided to add puff paint and decorations to their shirts.  Then another designed a logo for their group’s shirt to go with the theme of Homecoming, and have their shirts custom printed, and everyone else who had a group started doing the same.  Then someone got the idea of listing all the group members’ names on the backs of their custom printed group T-shirts. And everyone started doing the same.  And suddenly, an idea that was supposed to help kids feel more a part of homecoming started making kids feel very left out.  Can you imagine how a teenager must feel on game day at school, when they’re not wearing a group shirt, when their name doesn’t join the coveted roster printed on the backs of every cool girl and boy?  
 

Chapter 2- Mums

 

Guys taking a date to the football game at a southern American high school traditionally bought their date a mum (short for Chrysanthemum, a perennial flower that comes in many colors) to wear on the front of their outfit, usually pinned on the upper right.   Florists would often add a few streamers hanging down and other decorations around the mum. Then enterprising moms and craft stores got the idea that they could create the mums themselves—why give florists all the glory, not to mention the bucks? And besides, they could make them cuter.  They could personalize them more.  Then school PTAs realized, why not use mums as a fundraiser? So they started making them, too. And since they had to make so many in advance, real flowers just wouldn’t do anymore, so the mums, now all white, began to be artificial. And got artificially bigger. And the streamers got longer. And the craft retailers kept coming up with more “stuff” to add to the mums, plastic trinkets representing every class and just about every activity going on at the schools (wait, did I see an underwater basket-weaving charm the other day?). And for an extra fee, you can buy that basket-weaving trinket with glitter added. Fake pearls? They’ve got’em.  Feather boas? Ditto.  A stuffed bear right in the middle of the flower? Sure.  And that will be $7 extra if you don’t want your bear to be naked.  How about a football player outfit for your bear? Drill team hat? Cheer skirt? Every Bratz doll and Barbie in town only wish they looked this fine…And how about a cow bell? Yeah, that’s right…a FREAKING COW BELL! A 3” x 4” metal cowbell, painted in your school colors, of course.  Yes, it makes the mums heavier, but it clangs when you walk, so that everyone will know your date spent an extra $6 on that bell.  And if he really loves you, you’ll have more than one bell attached.  And because of the amount of “stuff” attached, the mums can no longer be pinned near the right shoulder.  You must wear them around your neck, so it’s really a mum necklace, strapped on with a thin, white cotton rope.  The mum hangs down almost to your belly, the streamers touch your ankles.  But I’m not sure why they even call it a mum anymore, because you can hardly see the flower.  And they’re so large, they cover up the front of those group t-shirts that someone painstakingly designed.  Guys now wear mums, too.  (Huh?) Girls buy their dates a slightly smaller version, worn on the arm, via a “garter”.  And yes, the guys all have stuffed teddy bears in the center of theirs, too. (Andy is amazed why these high school guys allow themselves to be “sissified” in that way. “NO WAY would I have worn something like that,” he says.)

 

Earlier in the week, usually the group gets together for a party or dinner where they “unveil” and exchange their mums.

 

Though expensive (prices range from $35 to around $100), the school makes a killing off of them. Many area PTAs rent out vacant retail space each year and start setting up the school Mum Shop beginning in the summer.  Lots and lots of volunteer parents work in the shop, fashioning the mums and taking orders.  Many of those parents got little sleep this week because they were trying feverishly to finish up the orders in time for the big day.

 

Chapter 3  After-the-game

Since most teen-friendly restaurants in North Texas suburbia shut down before the game is even over (no kidding—pizza places that could be full of cash carrying teens close by 10 p.m.!!), and the groups don’t want the fun to end too soon, each group tries to outdo the other one in arranging a group activity.  This year, Allison’s group is going to Zero Gravity extreme thrill park (aka bungee jumping); Cleo’s is playing broomball at a Dr. Pepper StarCenter ice rink. Every teen will be sure to have a camera along, because the more photos you can post on Facebook of your group having fun, the better.

 

Chapter 4- The day of the dance

If you have a girl, and one that doesn’t drive, block out your entire Saturday because you’ll be pulling chauffeur duty all day. They all want to get their hair done at a salon, and ditto for their nails.  On hands and feet.  I drew the line at a spray-on tan. And said no to professionally done makeup as well.  But I know many other girls who will be “having it all” and probably even a massage, too.    (Gee, shouldn’t that be for the chauffeur?) You can bet I will be catching up on my reading while I wait.

 

But it all has to be done in time for the photo session.  That’s where you’ll meet up with your group to start the evening.  (Thankfully, in the groups I’ve been involved with, the parents are the photographers, not a professional.) And of course, each group tries to come up with a “cool” place at which to take the photos, ‘cause they’ll all be tagging them and comparing them on Facebook soon. Parks, fountains, sculptures, hotel lobbies…  Allison, God bless her, wanted to do something different from the usual last year and have a more urban background, like a nearby train track and a platform that’s decorated with art.  She thought it would be a neat contrast between their fancy dresses and suits.  No one else liked her idea… but, what’s wrong with Mom and Dad’s living room as a backdrop? Looking at my own high school dance photos and my brother’s and sister’s, the house and the “retro” living room furniture in the background are almost as fun to see as the people!

 

After the photo session, the groups head to a restaurant for dinner, and many groups choose to have a “party bus” or Hummer limo haul them to dinner and then to the dance…Andy and I remember that “in our day”, mass transportation would get rented IN COLLEGE when people were planning to drink, so they wouldn’t have to drive…so why do high school students need this? I was told it was so the group could stay together, arrive “en masse” and make a grand entrance to the dance, so no one has to get there ahead of time and feel like a total dork while they wait (haven’t they ever heard of the words “carpool” and “caravan”?)…Cleo’s group has 23 people in it and the bus is costing over $1,000 to rent…you do the math…

 

Chapter 5- After the dance

 

The dance ends at midnight, and again, teens don’t think their fun should end then.  And parents want to avoid kids getting in trouble and going somewhere to drink, so another fun group activity is planned for after the dance.  Last year, one of Allison’s group parents had an all-night party and rented a bounce house.  This year, I know of several groups who are having an all night lock-in at a gymnastics center.  

 

Chapter 6- Game Day Pep Rally

 

Well, the big game is tonight, and I must say, the homecoming pep rally this morning was quite an experience.  The halls were transformed so wonderfully with themed decorations, they didn’t look like halls.  One looked like a dark forest.  I can see why Allison looks forward to this day so much.  The band played.  The drill team performed.  The cheerleaders flipped.  The coaches got on the microphones and fired up the crowd.  The excitement was infectious.

 

But the deafening sound of over 1,000 mums clanging as students walked in and out of the gym and through the halls, and the myriad of different colored group T-shirts in the bleachers, made me want to scream, and I don’t mean “Go Mustangs!” I just kept thinking of the beginning of the Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr and kept my mouth shut: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…