Dropping 7 truth bombs on prom

By | April 12, 2019 8:48 am

By Topher Wiles

A shepherd was out with his flock on a peaceful night and said, “This is nice.”

“Not for me,” said one of his sheep. “All you do is boss me around all the time!”

“What did you say?” asked the shepherd.

“You herd me.”

I wish someone would have herded me, bossed me, or at least given me a set of rules to live by for my senior prom, because under my own guidance, it was awful. Yes, I was a straight “A” student.  Yes, I had been going to church for a year and was a born-again Christian.  Yes, my teachers, coaches, and parents thought I was reasonably smart and could navigate my life since I would be turning 18 just a few days after prom.  Yes, they were all wrong.  My prom was awful.  I was an idiot.  I needed guidance and here’s why.

Mediocrity summarized what I brought to the relationship table in high school.  I was a good athlete but not stellar.  I was an “A” student but not the top of the class.  My family wasn’t rich, but my job at the pharmacy gave me some coins in my pocket.  My car wasn’t loud, raised, or lowered, but at least I had one.  Being a new Christian, I was kind of in between social networks, so I was still finding my way within a new group of friends.  Spring of 1997 saw this middle-of-the-road kid in between girlfriends before prom.

Dana was a good girl (names changed for anonymity) in my senior class who also found herself dateless before prom.  I can’t remember the exact circumstances, but I remember a mutual agreement that we would go together, enjoy one of the big nights of our senior year, and the rest would be history.

RULE #1 – Don’t dump a friend right before prom.   Along came Amy (name changed).  She was an eye-catching freshman who suddenly showed a lot of interest in mediocre me.  Just a couple weeks before the big dance, Amy turned the flirting on.  Girls, you know you can nab most guys by laughing at all their jokes, giving well-timed hand touches in the hallway, and dropping sweet little notes in their locker.  Long story short, I dumped my senior friend, Dana, for this freshman fox who was infatuated with me.  Just…a…week…before…PROM!

Ever the “gentleman,” I dropped the $40 for Amy’s ticket, took my date to a nice dinner, and whamo… pretty much didn’t see her the rest of prom night.  She ran off with a group of girls and never even danced with me.  Yup, Amy never wanted to be with me in the first place. As a freshman she just wanted to go to prom, and I was her vehicle.  Anger, hurt, and resentment are the feelings I still remember 22 years later.  I’m sure Dana felt the same toward me since she ended up with her older brother escorting her to senior prom.  I admit: I was naïve, I was a bad friend, and I was an idiot.

I needed a mentor.  I needed a shepherd.  I needed someone to lay down some guidelines for me at my senior prom to steer me toward having a great night with a good friend.  For those seniors in White County and beyond, here are a few guidelines from me to help you have a great Prom night.

RULE #1 you’ve already read.  Don’t dump your friend right before prom.  Enough said.

RULE #2 – You don’t have to go to prom.   I’m over 20 years past my junior and senior proms, and no one really cares if you were or weren’t there.  Life in Christ doesn’t revolve around prom.

RULE #3 – If you go, set a reasonable budget.  Due to the magazine hype and media frenzy, people spend as much as they would for a wedding on this night of senior year.  Trust me, you don’t have to have that “dress so hot it sizzles,” that coveted stretch limo, or a $100 meal.  Set a budget you can enjoyably afford, and stick with it.

RULE #4 – Men, dress respectfully.  Ladies, dress with class.  The classic tux/suit and modest gown never go out of style.  The best part is you can enjoy the pictures 20 years later without cringing.

RULE #5 – If you’re dancing, groups are the best.  Especially remind the young ladies that touches beyond their normal personal boundaries aren’t allowed from boys just because it’s prom night.

RULE #6 – Curfew will curb a few problems.  It also gives teens a way to tastefully decline a party invitation by saying, “I just can’t come; I have to be home by curfew.”

RULE #7 – Parents must OK any after-prom activities.  With the heightened excitement of prom night, teens don’t always make responsible decisions.  Since prom is touted as a time to self-indulge by media, risky behaviors may be harder to resist.  The grim reality is that over one-third of all alcohol-related traffic deaths among teens occur during the prom/graduation season (from focusonthefamily.com).   As a parent, it is still your responsibility to know where your teen is after the prom. Ask the following questions, “Is your party/event/activity supervised by an adult?”  “Will there be drugs/alcohol present at this event?”  “Is your date going to pressure you into doing something we don’t approve of?”  Set the expectation for behavior from your teen and stick to it.

“You herd me,” said the sheep.  In our teenage years we all need “herding” and guidance.  A good mentor or guide could have helped “Dana” and me enjoy our senior prom much more.  Teens, follow these  simple rules and ask your parents and mentors if they have any guidelines to add to it.  If you don’t have anyone else you feel comfortable asking your questions to, then email me with Family Forte at topherwiles@spartacoc.com.  Class of 2019, enjoy your senior year!

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31

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