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The Cotillion Ball

Last night was my daughter’s spring ball with her cotillion group.  What is cotillion, you ask?  Manners class.  Dance class.  The formal training to whip our youth into shape. 🙂

I only know of this organization because as a youth, I was forced to attend myself.  My first year was in ninth grade and I didn’t know a soul.  The cotillion teacher happened to be a close friend of my Aunt Jan, a grand cotillion mistress herself, so having my brothers, sister and I join the club seemed to be a no-brainer.  For everyone else but us, that is!  You want me to dance with boys?  Boys I don’t even know?

Ugh.  The horror!  But alas, I must confess, I am forever grateful.  As an adult, this training has served me well.  Through the years there has been occasion where I was glad to know how to follow a man’s moves on the dance floor without looking the fool.  I was glad to be able to reply “yes” when the handsome fellow asked me to dance.  Cha-cha?  Of course I cha-cha!  Who doesn’t?

My daughter is now in middle school and like her parent before her, is forced to attend cotillion.  Do I have to go?  I hate it!

Yes, dear.  Once a month, it’s not going to kill you.  You’ll thank me later.  Good thing I can wait.  The child is not happy, though you couldn’t tell from this image, now can you?

And all of the young ladies looked divine, especially when escorted by their equally fine clad young gentlemen!

The attire for this ball was quite formal, with a black and white theme.  T he boys rented tuxedos and the girls secured beautiful ball gowns.  Most are probably bridesmaid dresses or prom wear, but it was fun to dress up.  Even my child will admit to that.

Next month?  They’ll have a fifties swing-fling. Not sure why we’re still stuck on the fifties.  That worked for my parents–they lived the music!  But me?  I have no poodle skirt stuffed into the back of my closet.  No saddle shoes or hair bows.  Hmph.  Perhaps I’ll be making my way to the thrift store.

Because it is fun.  Just to prove it, the cotillion headmistress allowed her third year students to line dance.

A kid’s gotta have some fun, right?  Absolutely!  Dulls the pain and convinces them to come back next year! 

Actually, once these kids get the hang of ballroom dancing, they tend to enjoy it.  Oddly enough, especially the boys. 🙂

Poor Daddy…  (Get your hands off my daughter.)  But he, too, will survive.  Besides, everything is more fun when you have friends with you, right?  Our grand scheme for next year’s grand ball?

Enlist some friends to sign up for cotillion, of course!  How about you?  Ever endure the dreaded cotillion ball?

The End of Youth

I just read a great post by Sheila Seabrook about inner beauty.  The way she described her father’s love for her mother was touching as well as her story of feeling awkward in comparison to her siblings. This resonated with me in terms of how much family means to me, how time flies by, and how we need to hold on to what we have today – because that’s all we have.  The future is not in our hands to deal with today.  We can look back and feel our memories.  We can deal with what is happening now and in the present.  But what will happen tomorrow is out of our grasp today.

Last night was my son’s last basketball game of the season.  He’s been playing basketball for three years and will be graduating this June from high school.  We’ve been by his side for three years and attended most of his games.  Last night was Senior Night and it was a miracle I didn’t wail my way through it, except the game was so exciting I was too busy yelling and screaming and waving my “Go Dylan!” sign that the cheerleaders had made for him.

My heart is breaking at the thought that I won’t be able to cheer for him and his team mates any longer, that his days of being on the high school varsity team have come to an end.  I already miss eating dinner, doing the dishes, and then rushing off to the games to shout (and often to pout after their losses).

Having his team mates over almost every day and watching them growing older has been a privilege that has made me smile and now makes me sad because I see their youth slipping away.  They’re now young men.  And I have witnessed the end of their youth.  And I cry.

What’s YOUR guilty pleasure?

Do you have a guilty pleasure? As for myself, naming only one may prove difficult. Or perhaps I could rationalize this one away and say there are NO guilty pleasures. I’m an adult. Everything is fair game. (So long as I’m calling my mother and paying attention to hubby and the kids, right?)

Oh, but I do love fantasy play! Alright, my number one guilty pleasure…

Does flirting count?  It’s not chocolate cake (that I so desperately yearn for), but it is equally as fulfilling. I am a living breathing woman with needs and, eh-hem, ego. I am getting older, wider—er, I mean, wiser.  Yes, older and wiser is what I’m getting and when the bag boy at my local supermarket smiles bright and asks, “Are these your kids?”

As though he’s surprised that a woman of my youthful appearance could have produced elementary-aged children—upper elementary-aged children, to be exact. Well, it’s an easy mistake to make (a lie I’ll continue to tell myself) so I smile in reply and say, “Why yes, they are.”

“Wow…” he utters in shock.

Sweet child.  Of course he must be younger than he looks because if he had a lick of worldly sense about him, he would know that no woman in her right mind would take another person’s child to the grocery store, let alone two. Shoot—it’s not even wise to take your own kids to the store let alone someone else’s!

And to think I had grown older and wiser.  (Perhaps I have a few years to go before that particular feature kicks in.) Yes, well, can we get back to chocolate?  At least I’ve grown wise enough to distinguish between good chocolate and bad chocolate.  You know, as in:  I only eat dark chocolate. 

Okay, that’s a lie.  The best chocolate pudding cake is not made from dark chocolate but my ever so favorite milk chocolate with caramel between the layers, topped with milk chocolate frosting…

Speaking of frosting, I believe I’m plum out.  I think it’s time I head to the grocery store right now—without the kids.  Heaven knows they’ll want some of my cake if they see me buy it!  (Told you it wasn’t a good idea to shop with children.)  Now if you’ll excuse me, I think it’s time I practice my “innocent” look—before the kids and hubby get home.

How about you?  Any guilty pleasures you want to share?

A Note to My Younger Self

I don’t write in a journal though I’ve read that it’s a great way to get your thoughts down on paper instead of them clogging your brain.  You can then refer back to them,  think about how you’ve dealt with them, note if there’s an issue that’s still bothering you, keep track of how you’ve progressed in your life, jot down what you’re grateful for.  When I was younger I had a diary, but it was mostly a log of what I did every day, nothing very interesting.  The most revealing notes about my personal life I found in letters my mother saved that I’d written to her when I was away at college.

Now that I’m no longer “young” I wonder what letter I would write to my younger self.  What advice would I give to the Young Patti now that I have so many years tucked under my emotional belt.  Writing this was really hard.  I had to dig deep into my youth, kick up clumps of emotional dirt, to unearth what I’d like to tell myself.  So, here goes:

Dear Patti:

You’re only sixteen years old.  I get that.  But when you think that you may live until you’re 90+ years old, how come you think that you know it all at such a young age?  Wouldn’t it stand to reason that your parents might have a teensy weensy bit of knowledge and wisdom gained from having lived for a few more years than you?  What is life if not a gathering of life experiences that form who we are, right?  And sometimes older people have some worthwhile advice to lend you, if and when you have problems and questions when you’re growing up.  They don’t want to live your life for you, nor do they want to tell you what to do.  All your parents want is to help you along your path, perhaps guide you down a road that you may not have known even existed.  They may want you to look at other options so that you’ll have a more well-rounded view of what lies ahead of you.

No one knows what the future will bring.  No one.  Unexpected events WILL mark your path.  And most of your pals will not have lived long enough to experience much.  So, sometimes they aren’t the best people to go to for advice.  They, too, have their own questions for which they have no answers.  Not that your parents will have those answers FOR YOU.  But, given the fact that they’ve known you since you were a child, perhaps you’ll discover their ideas aren’t as outdated and dinosauric as you think.

I know you think anyone over 25 years old is a relic from the past, with one foot in the grave and the other on a slippery slab of ice.  But when you’re older, you WILL understand how much you DIDN’T know at 15, 16, 17, 18 and older.  You will see that your parents weren’t totally full of ideas no longer useful to your generation.  They really did have something interesting to say to you.  And they wanted to talk to you about life because they love you.  They wanted to help you out..

Listen to them.  You might find out they can indeed impart a few worthy words to you about what it’s like to grow, to age, and to mature.

What about you?  What would YOU tell your younger self?

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