It's Friday - it's Prom Night for my soon-to-be 17 year old daughter. She arrives home from school with no expectation, excitement or even knowledge that tonight will be any different from any other night. She will have three dates: her father, driving down from Maryland just for the evening, her step-dad and me.
I head her straight upstairs after school and slip her into a soapy tub noticing her S-shaped spine, the hallmark of scoliosis. Noticing the tiny scar along her upper right rib where the chest tube was placed at 22 months old after she aspirated on vomit during a 60 minute tonic clonic seizure. So many stories we've shared. So many stories, and here we are all these years later.
I shampoo her hair, carefully shave her legs, pat her dry and secure her back in a diaper and comfy clothes then proceed to torture her by blow drying and brushing her hair.
I plug in my curling wand and practice the patience of twirling sections of hair into soft tendrils on an uncooperative victim of my primping. She is overwhelmed by all of this physical attention and dramatic change in her after-school routine. I am overwhelmed with happiness at another night of prom. The hair won't last more than an hour, but that's okay. It's worth it to dress my baby girl up once a year. It's worth it to make her look as special as she is.
and tearful... and aggressive.
This is before she smacked Tink in the head...
and this is after clocking Tink and poking Pink in the eye and every one's mood was going down hill fast.
So, obviously that went well.
I tell her no one can be this miserable when they look this beautiful, but she just isn't having any of it. This is the time I have to forget about my voracious picture taking habit and just leave her a little peace.
The prom is the brain child of Jessica C., a vocational specialist at my daughter's special school who decided four years ago to put together an amazing prom night for the students and their parents.
A mother of 2 and a full time employee, Jessica does not get paid anything extra for the hours and hours she and the prom committee volunteers spend to organize a spectacular event. They do not cut corners because they think the kids "won't notice." In fact, they strive to make it just as elegant, special, and beautiful as any "typical" prom at a "typical" school. If the world were full of people like Jessica it would be a magnificent place.
CB and her devoted teacher of 5 years, who worked all day, is on the prom committee, and attended the prom 8 months pregnant. Bless her sweet soul!
It was really difficult to get CB's picture all night. This is the usual case with her, but it seemed even more difficult for some reason. Probably because I was all eager with my new camera. So I figured when someone won't look at the lens, I'll just have to get all "artsy" with it.
Her mood was a bit all over the place tonight and she had a few "Mike Tyson" moments, punching unsuspecting people who got too close. I escaped the right hooks, but got a killer calf workout from wrangling her while in stilettos.
I think most of the time she was happy though. Especially when the DJ got going.
Some of the student's from CB's class together for a photo.
A friend of mine from church was there with her son. We often find ourselves sitting back in the church's "crying room" together. Her son, verbal and able to perform many more life skills than CB, attempted to coax her out on the dance floor. She was demure, playing a tad bit hard to get. But, she didn't right hook him. It was the sweetest thing I've ever seen.
As always, it is a great night. A night where we can all show up with our children and not feel conspicuous, not "shush" them or stop them from being themselves in a public setting. It is not just a night for them, it is a night for us too as their caregivers. A night to be able to do something really special with our children in a space of comfort and love. A place where no one does a double take, no one backs away, no one stares or wonders. Everyone here shares the same story.
CB had a great time, but I have to admit that when we arrived home at 10:30 pm, that's when I saw the biggest smile of the night on her face. She was just happy to snuggle up in bed and sleep. A girl after my own heart.