Maybe I'm An A-Hole, But I'll Pass On The Pity Date

Do not hate me for this one, guys.

It would seem that "Prom-posals" are the new thing. It's when one teen asks another to prom, but makes it an event. Balloon bouquets, flash-mobs, celeb cameos, flower arrangements- some of these put my actual marriage proposal to shame, much less my awkward heywannagotoprom conversation I had with the guy I was dating my senior year.

It just occurred to me that I should dig up one of my prom pictures. {shudder}

Anyway, back to proms. These extravagant invites have become the stuff of YouTube videos everywhere and, even thought I think the way these have become over-the-top is kind of insane, I'm totally along for the ride. Roses in math class? A flock of minstrels from the glee club to serenade a prom hopeful? I will watch the shit out of that. I think the romanticism is sweet.

At some point, I start to think about PJ as a prom-goer. Right now, while he's in kindergarten, it's hard to know if that's in the cards for him. I have certainly pictured him a thousand times- he'll be taller than me and blonde, wearing a tux with a bow tie that matches his date's dress (do people still do that?). He'll offer her a corsage that he picked out and I'll take eleventy-billion pictures. For now, though, PJ is a six year old boy with Autism, and the prom seems farther away that just the ten more years he needs to age.

Lately, the prom-posal videos have expanded, and I see the headlines as they go viral: Track Standout Asks Special-Needs Boy To Prom; Teen Surprises Special-Needs Student With Promposal. They are as sweet as the others, with the asker going all out to make the moment one to remember. There are parts of this that I love. I love that these teens want to make sure that their special-needs classmates are included in this dressy right-of-passage, and I love that they go above and beyond to make sure that the asking is something they will never forget. There have been a few of these videos that have brought me to tears.

Still, as the mother of a child with special needs, I am not sure about how I feel about this. When I picture PJ going to the prom, in his tux and matching bow tie, I think about who his date will be. Maybe it will be a friend. Maybe it will be the girl (or boy, who knows!) with whom he's had his first kiss. Maybe he won't be interested in prom.

When and if he does go, and no matter what his "labels" are at the time, I want PJ to go to prom with someone who values him. I want his prom experience to be with someone who feels that he is worth their time as an equal. I don't know that I want someone to ask him just because nobody else will. I don't want PJ to be somebody's good deed. I don't want a future headline to say "Teen Standout Asks Special Needs Boy To Prom." PJ is already a standout.

I talked to my husband about this, and he thought I was being a bit unreasonable. He felt that I wasn't being fair to the teens doing the asking. I get what he was saying, and I don't think that these kids are being anything but selfless and generous. I love that they are making sure that the prom experience is one that is inclusive to all of their classmates. I love that they are reaching out to a student who may not have the change to be in the receiving end of a flashy prom-posal.

I just don't know that I want my son to be a pity date.

I know I sound like an asshole. And truthfully, I just want PJ to be happy. If the hot girl at school offering him a prom-posal makes him happy some day, than that's amazing. Perhaps PJ and this girl are truly friends, or are truly attracted to each other. And perhaps none of that will even matter to PJ. It's too far away to tell. But I read one of the many pieces about just such a scenario, a cute young cheerleader asking a boy with Autism to the prom. She talked about how she had already been to two proms, about how she wasn't just going to half-ass the experience for him, and how she was going to make him look good. I read that and it just didn't taste right.

Mind you, this is coming from someone who had zero fucks to give about prom when I was in high school. I went with a guy I was casually dating and my mother had to threaten me until I finally agreed to wear heels with my dress. If that type of attitude is hereditary, than this thinking may be for naught. But if it's not, if the prom means something to PJ someday, than I hope it means more to his date than pity.

Take me for what I am!

Who I was meant to be!

And if you give a damn,
Take me baby, Or leave me!
-Take Me Or Leave Me, Rent- Original Broadway Soundtrack


SMD @ lifeaccordingtosteph said...

You don't sound like an asshole. That cheerleader story leaves a bad taste in my mouth too.

When we were in school, someone with special needs asked MFD to her prom. He went and had fun - he always does - he values people as they are and always has. To no fanfare or whatever as it exists today, so I know people like him are out there. The need for viral praise is a little bit of what turns me off of these stories.

Unknown said...

First off, let me say I so enjoy your blogs, with that being said, I truly believe knowing PJ he will have a prom date and not a pity date! Now with that, I would like to share my story with you, no my daughter is not special needs but has had her own share of health/physical issues all of her childhood. She has had numerous leg surgeries and countless casts, crutches, boots, and has and still has hardware in her legs. I was where you are now worrying will some boy ask her to prom, will she go to prom etc. etc. because would some boy take her because she has a small limp and numerous scars on her legs, (now I sound like the a-hole), but that is the society in which we live , everything is based on physical appearances. Well Jr year of high school, a boy who is a friend did ask her to Jr prom and she accepted, went and had a great time, I was beyond thrilled, and like you my daughter could give zero f$#@ about going to prom, but she did. Then sr year rolled around and she was decided that her and her friends had no desire to go to prom and would therefore go out to dinner and have fun instead because they did not give a shit about prom. They ahd a great time, but she did get asked by a friend to another high school prom and she went reluctantly but had a good time, she just didnt go to her own high school's prom. She missed alot of school growing up due to hospital stays, surgeries, etc So I used to lie awake worrying about all the social crap she was missing out on but she never let it bother her until she reached the dreaded teen years, but I can say she is pretty self confident not overly self conscious and is now a freshman in college and enjoying herself! She has dated (ugh) and gone many places. Now, by no means can I compare my child's situation to yours or any of other parent of a special needs, but we had our own special kind of hell that we too went thru, so I just wanted to share my story and say I can relate on some level to what you are thinking and feeling! Tracey C

Nicole Marica said...

I can see both sides...there was one video where the special needs kid was literally cheering and whooping around the room because he was so happy that someone asked him. It doesn't matter why the girl asked him or what her motives are (at least to him), it only mattered that he got the experience.

Normally when I watch those videos my first thought is fear. What if this is a "carrie"-esque moment waiting to happen? Or, why is this kid being so nice, kids these days aren't that nice! lol but then I think about the kid being asked, and how it must feel for them in that moment. That's something they'll remember forever.

DreamNT said...

it only mattered that he got the experience.