Lots of big things frighten me for my sons and their futures: bullying, the environment, the cost of college tuition, the threat of nuclear war. There are also some smaller things that frighten me about my sons growing up and becoming teenagers. One of them strikes every year around this time and is centered around a high school rite of passage. My fears are centered around the“promposal”.
Back in the dark ages when I was in high school, if someone wanted to go to prom with you they walked up to your locker or found you in the hall before class and said “Hey, prom looks like it’s going to be fun this year. I was wondering if you wanted to go with me.” That’s it. Maybe, if you were really lucky, they would get the courage up to do it all by themselves and would not require the backup of their group of friends who stood snickering and laughing in the background. Simple, really, and straightforward.
Nowadays, that approach is just not enough. All across the country, teenagers are seeking new and elaborate ways to secure a prom date. They hang big signs from overpasses, have pizzas delivered with a prom invitation inside (okay, points for that one because who doesn’t love pizza), and choreograph flash mob dances. Everyone has to think up new and innovative ways to ask someone to prom and it worries me.
Google “promposal” and most of your hits will come back with the word “epic” attached to them. That’s the standard that asking a simple question is being held to these days.
Teenagers have taken the very real, special, and adult moment of a marriage proposal and duplicated it in their teenage lives. And that is what makes me worry.
I worry that we are building unreal expectations up in teenage girls’ heads. If they get an “epic” proposal to prom, what will they expect when a man asks them to marry them? Well, I really love you and I think we would be good together but I didn’t even say yes to prom without a flash mob so…
I worry that the standards we set for boys are too high. I have been assured by my husband that gearing up the courage to ask a girl on a date is hard enough, now they not only have to gear that courage up but they also have to plan, direct, and choreograph something epic just to ask the girl. My eldest son is a sweet, shy, understated kid. It will be an effort to get him to even ask a girl to prom in the old-fashioned way, much less with an “epic” event. It will crush him if she says no just because she is waiting for him to pay for a helicopter to fly a sign over the next home football game.
I also worry that the need to think of something creative and unique for a promposal will lead some kids to push the boundaries of safety and decency. Just recently here in Florida, a young man’s promposal has come under fire for containing racist language. I actually saw a video of a promposal where a kid accidentally set himself on fire. Nothing says “epic” like spending your prom in the burn unit.