The Sassy Saint will be going to her first formal dance this year, and I'm not ready. I wonder if they still have parent chaperones to make sure no one is dirty-dancing or spiking the punch; I'm signing up.
Since she's going to a formal dance, she needs a formal dress. I planned to buy a dress after homecoming season - her dance is in the spring - and get a discounted one. I looked at it as a bonding opportunity, a real-life shopping montage. We would laugh and pick out dresses and have a great time.
I didn't account for my practical Sass, who prefers T-shirts and jeans and cut off all her long, thick, curly hair over the summer because it was hot. My Sassy Saint, who likes boots and army coats and doesn't like makeup because it makes her eyes itch. My Sass, who couldn't name a single boy band or teen idol, but can hold lengthy conversations about "people's revolutions" in America, France and Russia and modern-day social justice campaigns. She's an unusual, brilliant child, but she's not a child who loves fancy dresses.
It was a disaster.
She didn't want to be there, and it was obvious from her rolled eyes, sighs and sullen demeanor. I asked what color and cut she wanted to wear. She didn't know.
"What about a nice light blue? It will pick up the color of your eyes."
"Do you want a long dress? Or maybe one with a knee-length skirt?"
Again with the shrugging.
She probably tried on 15 or 20 dresses. She didn't like any of them. She was humoring me. She was uncomfortable. I was frustrated.
We had a mutual meltdown. It was ugly.
"Just tell me what you want," I told her after we got control of ourselves.
"I'm not good at being girly," she confessed.
"Don't worry, I suck at being girly, too," I said. "You don't need to worry about it. There are lots of ways to be a young woman, and your way is just as valid as anyone else's."
"I don't want to disappoint you."
Parental approval is a crushing burden. "I just want you to be happy." I do, regardless if her idea of her happiness is different than my idea of her happiness. Although it is so hard.
"I feel like you want me to be pink and sparkly."
"Sass, 90 percent of the clothes in my closet are black. Plus, you don't own a single pink or sparkly item of clothing, and I buy your clothes. Did I suggest a pink dress?"
"It was black-and-salmon, not pink. Just one, because it had a long skirt, and I know you wanted something modest. I can't help if some of the dresses had sparkles on them, because they're formal dresses. I did try to pick more subtle dresses."
"I know," she sighed.
We didn't buy a dress. Instead, we went to dinner and talked politics and Broadway musicals.
The shopping trip wasn't a complete loss. We have a new catch phrase for ridiculous misunderstandings - "pink and sparkly."
(Wallace-Minger, The Weirton Daily Times community editor, is a Weirton resident and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)