By Anu Chitrapu
INDIA New England Columnist
BELMONT, MA–It’s that time of the year when many of our teenage kids are experiencing their first prom. For many parents, like me, this is a new experience and we are eager to provide unwanted and unsolicited advice to our kids on everything from whom they should go with to what they should wear.
My son and some of his studious friends (ahem Asian friends) first decided not to go to the prom. Being a desi parent I was oscillating between joy that my son was a “good” boy not be distracted by something like a prom before finals (I swear this is genetic and not something within my control); to disappointment that now I would not have an opportunity to build my knowledge on the topic of proms.
As we came closer to prom date, my son casually (a little over casually) let us know that his friends had decided to go to prom and had already asked the girls and were busy renting tuxedos! I immediately asked what his plans were, who he was going to ask, if he even knew a girl well enough (yes, I am that naïve), what was he going to wear•.the questions went on till I realized he was looking at me like I had lost it. He reminded me that the first step was asking a girl and he had not gotten past that step yet. I waited with bated breath for the next 2 days and would matter-of-factly ask if had asked someone yet to which the answer always was not yet, working on it. Finally on day 3 I could not contain myself anymore and said to him I would call my friend and ask if her daughter could go with him.
The reaction I got was quite unexpected! First, my daughter who in no way was involved with this, jumped into the conversation and said, “Mom please this is not India day” — I am still trying to figure out what that meant! Next, my son says he will do anything I say if I don’t make that phone call! SIGH — my kids don’t understand my good intentions.
The next day miraculously, my son was all set and announced as soon as I came home from work that my trick worked and he was so worried about what I would do that he asked a girl and she said yes. Note to myself — that money he asked for in the morning as I was rushing to work was not for lunch, but more like for a bunch of flowers. I suppressed my next question around whether the girl was good at studies. But before I could control it I asked if she had taken SAT and if he knew her scores. No, he replied because prom has nothing to do with studies or SAT scores. Fair enough.
Once he had decided to go the $ clock had started ticking. And I really did not have much to do around the planning — a resourceful friend of his asked him to rent the tux from a particular store. I found out that kid was getting his tux free for bringing 5 others to the store. That boy has a great future in sales.
Finally the tux was rented, the color of the bow was decided without my input. My son who I thought had no idea of such things had already figure out with the girl that he should wear a silver bow because she was wearing a silver dress. Oh well!
When prom day arrived we were all a little nervous and excited. The most unimpressed was my daughter – she went about with a bored look on her face saying this prom chatter was really boring. But she is at the peak of the “bored teenager” phase of life where big news like man landing on the moon will also be met with a blank expression and a “so what’s the fuss about” look.
In preparation for the prom my son asked for money for a car wash (yes seriously), a corsage (whose prices cleverly shot up that week), a haircut and for a post prom, traditional celebration burger at Harvard Square (that one made me speechless). In addition to all this, I had to give the same total amount of money to my daughter who kept complaining it was unfair that he was spending all this money while she got nothing.
When he was ready to leave the house, I took him to the back yard to take some “mother hen” pictures that I could send to the doting grandparents in India. As he stood in the yard asking me to hurry up with the pictures, I fumbled and clicked quickly so as not to delay him — needless to say some pictures were of my finger (thankfully not the middle one) as it blocked the lens, some you needed a good dose of imagination to see him in the distance but one, just one, was good enough to send to India.
With all the delays, he finally left 10 minutes later than planned. After he left I opened the fridge to get something to drink and what do I see there but the pretty white corsage in a box! Seriously, the fridge is already crowded and he puts the flowers in there for safekeeping! Given he was driving I did not want to call him, so waited for a bit to see if he would call. Instead he comes back to pick up the corsage and wonder of wonders he actually brings the girl to meet me!
The next morning, I sent the one good picture to my parents who were excited to see their grandson in a tux. It was all good till my mother asked me, not-so-casually, if the girl who went with him was Indian!
Disclaimer: All resemblance to real characters is totally intentional!