Crib Notes: When did asking someone to a dance become like a marriage proposal?

I’m fascinated by a trend that’s growing stronger: boys asking girls to formal dances with the sort of over-the-top gestures that rival grown men proposing marriage. Remember, the latter are men asking women to share their lives with them, compared to teenage boys asking girls to accompany them to one hours-long evening. There are stories circulating during this homecoming season (and prom last spring) of boys impressing girls via fireworks, a football stadium full of witnesses, public twerking and lots of documentation on You Tube.

Apparently several years ago reality teen stars on the show Laguna Beach first aired this dance proposal idea. Kids across America followed suit, making it the norm today.

It’s nice to see chivalry isn’t dead, but it’s too bad for that shy guy who just wants to call up and quietly ask the girl he likes from geometry to go to the dance.

One local mom I spoke to said her ninth-grader would like to go to the homecoming dance this year, but he’s too nervous to put himself out there like that. I’d bet a lot of kids feel the same. It makes sense that another trend is equally prevalent: groups of girls going to these formal dances together.

Another mom of teens I spoke to said it’s all about peer pressure. “One kid does something cool and then everyone has to follow suit or they’re the loser,” she said.

Yet another mom really got me thinking when she said, “I wonder if some of the desire for romantic gestures comes from living in a very casual world now. People rarely dress up; dating and relationships are casual; communication is casual with texting. Maybe girls (and possibly some boys) yearn for more romance, so thus we have one place where romantic gestures are acceptable — the dance ‘proposal.’”

I think she hit it right on. This reminds me of something else I’ve noticed in the past decade or so: Holiday preparations have become grander and flashier for many Americans, but the true meaning behind has been blurred. Christmas decorations are bigger and better than ever and thanks to marketers jumping on our need for special occasions, they’re in stores ever earlier each year. Easter egg leggings and glittery candy cane shirts are now staples of nearly every little girl’s seasonal wardrobe and mega-hits like the Elf on the Shelf promise more special memories with our little ones. Meanwhile, fewer people actually go to church year round, let alone in preparation for these religious holidays. Instead we look forward to and plan for the next holidays, even pseudo-ones. Did you celebrate Pi Day or Dr. Seuss Day when you were a child? They are full-blown holidays now.

In the end, our yearning for tradition, meaning and more extraordinary experiences just might be because we’ve relinquished those things in other areas of our lives.

Julie Samrick is the mother of four children and a resident of El Dorado Hills. E-mail her at [email protected]

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Posted by on Oct 7 2013.
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