Over-The-Top: Why Has High School Homecoming Morphed Into A Wedding Weekend?

By Lisa Barr

Perhaps I’m Old School, antiquated. But what happened to High School Homecoming, when it was actually about the kids and the dance? Never mind that I have three teenage daughters to outfit for The Ball … Yes, a freshman, a sophomore, and a senior (read: dresses, shoes, waxing, nails, makeup, and most importantly, HAIR). No, I will not bitch about what my ‘Day Of’ is going to look like; doing the suburban shuffle to three sets of photo shoots all taking place between 6 pm and 6:45 p.m., nor complain that I volunteered to have the “Sleep Over” which BEGINS at midnight, nor will I vent that I’ve had to navigate the five million parental texts about “The Plans” — No, I’m not going there. Mostly, because my husband cannot listen to it AGAIN.

Here’s where I AM going, or as one Mom at my daughter’s field hockey game put it best: “We need an Excel sheet to manage all the Homecoming details — I’m going out of my fucking mind.”

Here’s what it used to be, back in the “Olden Days” as my daughters like to say whenever I begin a sentence, “When I was a kid …” Yes, back 100 years ago when I was in high school, Homecoming had a real romantic feel. A Guy gathered up the nerve and asked a Girl to the dance. Girl said Yes, she bought a special dress, she shaved her own legs, plucked her own brows, bleached unwanted hair (thank you, Jolen), maybe got a manicure or her Mom did her nails, and perhaps, had her hair done at her Mom’s hair salon. The Guy came to the door, handed the Girl a corsage that matched her dress, then she pinned a boutonniere to his jacket lapel, pictures were taken on the doorstep, they got a ride to the dance (if he didn’t drive), and they STAYED at the dance AND danced, and then the Girl was dropped off at home, kissed at the door … G’nite. Done.

Now, here’s a screen shot of today’s Homecoming Extravaganza: Guy asks Girl to the Homecoming dance via text. In our community, this starts way early, usually in the summer at least TWO months before the dance. Girl texts back Ya. Girl tells Mom to hurry and reserve all the requisite appointments — hair/makeup/wax/nails. Guy then has to ask the Girl a Second Time (closer to the dance face-to-face) — only this time with a Real Plan. And the plan has to be cute enough for Facebook (the Holy Bible of Yes, It Really Happened). This part, I actually like, because it has a genuine human connection, and a Guy has to THINK not TEXT, DO not TEXT the asking. And in some instances, it becomes a group THINK and DO, because the Guy may ask his buddies to help out with a creative asking. It does have cute factor. And it is Facebook-worthy.

Once the YES is official … Here Come the Parents who begin to divide and conquer the weekend.

A sample outtake: One set of parents are needed to host pictures (to which all parents in ‘The Group’ are invited), another set of parents are required for driving TO the dance, another set of parents are on duty for picking up FROM the dance, whisking the kids away from the “Boring Dance” early in order to do a “Real Activity” (rollerskating, Laser Tag, ice skating, swimming, etc). This involves yet another change of clothes (yes, the $$$ dress was worn all of 25 minutes and is now rolled up in a gym bag), and yet another set of parents are then required to drive from that event to an After Party, and wait, another set of parents are needed to drive to a SLEEP OVER, and wait, another set of parents are on duty to drive to the Morning-After Brunch. In some cases, there are limos and party buses involved. Now just imagine the endless chain of emails …

You’re dizzy, I’m dizzy. My friend is wrong: It takes more than an Excel sheet, Homecoming Planning requires an accountant.

I, too, am guilty of all of it, so there is no higher road taken here, rather a pondering aloud as I stand on my soapbox: WHY do we do this to ourselves?

The truth is from what I’ve seen over the years, the kids have the MOST fun at the ‘kick-off’ party at the beginning of the school year. And here’s why: All the kids come dressed casually in shorts, and they STAY at the dance, and they love it. Parents drive there and back. End of story.

Simplicity. Simplicity. Simplicity.

We write a lot about the problems of Over-Parenting at GIRLilla Warfare … Hint: Perhaps, let’s think about getting out of the way on this one. Let the kids be; let them plan a non-perfect albeit fun night  (like they used to, back in the “Olden Days”), and let them STAY at the dance (not upgrade to other post-activities). Not to mention that for those kids who haven’t been asked to Homecoming or decided that they did not want to ask anyone in particular, they can come to the dance in groups and feel more comfortable. Enough with the Over-The-Topness — EXCEPT for making sure your kids’ plans are safe — that is indeed a Step-In Parenting Moment.

Moms — there’s no finger pointing here — I, too, am caught up in this labyrinthine system. Truth is, deep down, I secretly wish for a good shot of RETRO — a throwback to simpler times, less exhausting details.

 I constantly find myself longing for the day when our teens can experience the essence of romance. Will they ever really know that it’s an emotion NOT an emoji?

Homecoming should be calm, slower-paced fun as the evening unfolds; a night to remember, NOT a series of over-activitized Suburban Rituals. Nor should it be a “situation” — whereby parents are forced to “package” the night for the kids; to create the “perfect” group and scenarios.

Not to be Debbie Downer here but I happen to be on the receiving end of numerous hurtful Homecoming stories, and sadly, they are less about the kids and more about parental involvement. One in particular sticks with me, and it’s something to think about. A woman I met in line at the bank relayed to me that her son and his date were told they could not join a certain Homecoming group because the Pictures-Hosting-Parents had said, “Sorry, but there are not enough stairs.” As in enough stairs for couples and photos. (I know, that made me sick to my stomach too.)

Homecoming is about the kids and school spirit. Let’s not make it about us.

If this sounds preachy, please forgive. As trendy as I think I am, my kids tell me all the time (lovingly and otherwise) that I’m a dinosaur (and not just because I have no clue how to turn on my own TV … another blog). And yet … the  “antiquated” concept of  Old School Fun and “The Dance at the Gym”  is SO Richie Cunningham, as in “Happy Days” — but you know what, I can’t help but think just maybe they were.

LB:  Everybody’s got a good Homecoming tale — from Fabulous & Fun to You’re-Never-Gonna-Believe-This” story … Please share in our “Comments” section below (and NO Worries, “Anonymous Mom” is our middle name). We LOVE  hearing from you and so do other readers! xoxo

< back

11 Comments. Would you like to comment?

Leave a Reply