Thursday, March 31, 2016

Hiccups and (not ready for) Prom Time

As March goes out like an roaring lamb, or perhaps a docile lion, the first month as (kind of) parents of two teenage girls goes into the books. It's definitely different from being the parents of one.

When your second "child" arrives already at the legal adult age of 18, figuring out your role is interesting -- and fluid.

Maria is legally an adult, but because she is still a junior in high school, the same grade as Earbaby, it's tough to tell how involved in her life we're going to get, or even how comfortable any of us are in the process.

The first part was the basic rules of the road. Clean up after yourself. Keep us in the loop, so we know when to expect you. That was the start, but as the month wore on, more rules had to be established. Like, don't borrow things without asking (this request after a blowout with EB) and, once again (as trash and food piled up in her small living space), clean up after yourself.

It hasn't all been roses. But there are no regrets here. I explained after week three -- when EB, exasperated, frustrated and angry, stopped speaking to her friend, and I told Maria in no uncertain terms, her room was disgusting and she had to clean it immediately -- that the honeymoon period was over, and now the real work begins. See, we are a family of four now. We're allowed to get mad at each other, but we talk it out. There are no ultimatums, no threats of being tossed out. This is her home now, and she's living in a family situation where we are all accountable to each other.

Maria still has family in town and is close to her older sister. And we can't put restrictions or curfews on her comings and goings, nor do we want to. What does this unusual situation boil down to? Respect the space, the home, and the people you're living with. Legally she's an adult. But she's still a teenager. The hiccups of pseudo-parenthood will come and go until we figure it all out. In the meantime, EB has the sibling experience she used to long for. Which means sometimes it will be good and other times they will just get on each other's nerves. You can say "get out of my room" but you can't say "get out of my house." Just like in everyone else's family.

So with this new sibling dynamic in mind, we start preparing for prom season. Luckily Maria is financially independent enough to pay for her own dress. Unluckily for me, EB is going to two proms. And because she is going with the same date, that means two different dresses. Also unluckily for me, I'm expected to spring for the cost of both these frocks, although I'm not sure who made this rule.

A couple of weekends back, we three ladies decided to go prom dress shopping. This actually is fun, for those who enjoy root canals or any sort of surgical procedure sans anesthesia. In other words, Yikes!

While I realize it's been well over 40 years since my own prom (when my friend's mom made a beautiful dress for me, her daughter and our other best friend), but when did a prom dress start costing more than my car payment? Thankfully I warned EB that we weren't buying that day, just looking. The dress shop was prom heaven (or hell, if you're the mom with the checkbook). The dresses EB tried on looked fabulous. The price tags were all upwards of $400, and deposits were nonrefundable. When EB saw the two dresses she liked would have cost almost as much as what our mortgage payment used to be, even she balked (thank goodness too, this kid always sees mom as an ATM with infinite reserves). Maria didn't find anything she liked. Happily, the dress she really wanted, one a former upperclassman wore a year ago, was made available for her to rent for $150. She tried it on a week later and it fit like a glove. One dress down, two to go.

This weekend EB and I will scout out a couple of other places (including bridal shops for clearance items and secondhand stores along with a department store or two) to try and find something beautiful that doesn't cost the same as the food budget for a small country. These dresses can only be worn once, remember. Twice if she stays the same size and attends a formal affair in college in two or three years.

So we march on. Hiccups, prom, growing pains all ahead. Along with SAT and ACT prep, a third grading term and the beginning of the college panic season. Sigh. Some days I feel as if I should quote Dory from Finding Nemo, "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming."

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