Drive down any neighborhood street on a Saturday evening in May and you will quite possibly pass an ensemble of high school students, posing for photos, decked out in an array of fabulous color and finery quite unlike their daily dose of jeans and hoodies. Hands usually tossing a football nervously slide a delicate corsage onto the wrist of the beauty before him. Fingers that normally twist hair strands or practice piano wrestle to pin a boutonniere just right onto his tux lapel. Parents look on, snapping photo after photo, trying to capture the perfect pose, the perfect background, the perfect smile, wondering how this baby girl or boy is suddenly looking amazingly grown up, climbing into their car and driving off without them . . . .
I think my son spent all of one hour getting ready for his junior prom. He probably was even out playing football with some of the guys that afternoon. It's no big deal for the guys - shower, shave, don the tux, grab the corsage and head out. Prince Charming in sixty short minutes - voila!
Oh but the Princesses. They've been thinking about this night for years! The dress, the hair, the make up, the shoes, the jewelry. . . the Prom! Oh wait, it's just Prom. Not THE Prom. I date myself calling it "THE" Prom which is what it was when I was in Princess mode. Now it's just "Prom". And coming with an ever so much higher price tag . . . but that's another story.
It really is something to see the transformations of these teenagers, isn't it? They can be schlepping their way down the hall, down the street, down the mall, and then for this one night they are coming down the stairs like something out of a classic Hollywood movie on the big screen, teetering on the that fine line between childhood and adulthood. When my daughter and her friends descended the grand staircase at a gracious friend's home, there was a collective parental gasp at the gorgeous girl/women before us. She was gorgeous in a gown of orange and gold, sparkling accents, long, lovely tresses of curls cascading over her shoulders and a smile of delighted joy. Fairy Godmother had indeed done her job well.
The Princess phenomenon that seems larger than life these days is an interesting philosophy. Now, don't get me wrong. One of my very favorite family vacations was our first trip to Disney World. We'd waited until our kids were old enough to truly enjoy the experience and not be one of the countless tantrum throwing toddlers that we actually did make a game of counting by simply all turning to each other and saying "5" or whatever number screamer it was for that day. I believe we hit 13 one especially humid day in Animal Kingdom.
I'm not ashamed to say that when my daughter and I wormed our way to a spot near Cinderella's Castle for the afternoon show and the lovely ladies in their trademark gold, blue and pink gowns glided onto the stage, I was the first one to say with genuine excitement, "Look, there they are!" swept up in the magic that invites everyone in the park to believe that dreams really do come true.
And for one enchanted night, juniors and seniors across the country get a chance to become their own version of a prince or princess at Prom. Do the girls get much more into all the planning and primping and princessing? Pretty much . . . but don't deny the guys their pride in how well they clean up. There's just something about a tux that turns even the least likely prince candidate slick and suave. It's dress up at its finest and another rite of passage for these on the brink of adulthood teens.
Putting the cost and the scary after prom escapades aside, another challenge remains. As most of life is, princess mode must still be all about balance. The balance between external beauty and internal character. The balance between creating a lovely evening and not breaking the bank to do so. The balance between enjoying having all eyes upon you as you descend the stairs and taking the time to care for those at the party who need a kind word, a sincere compliment, a brave come alongside, an invite into the circle. The balance between daring to dream great dreams and looking realistically at how God has wired you and finding how He can best use you to make a difference in this full of scary escapades world.
And those are the Princesses now and in the upcoming years who best deserve our cries of delight of "Look! There they are!"