Sorry for being absent last week! I got back from my vacation to Philly Sunday night at something like 9:30-10:00, so I was a lot too drained to post.
It’s been a week, but I’m back though! Today I’ll be talking about my experience chaperoning my school’s prom for the second time.
So what is it like being a 23-year-old prom chaperone for seniors (17-19 year olds) and juniors (16-18 year olds)? In many ways it’s like being Casper. And I mean like Casper in the movie Casper, where he becomes alive for a short period of time. This time around, I knew a lot more students, but as a good chaperone, you can only interact with students so much. A lot of the night becomes a mixture of eating food (highlight!! — it’s free), taking pictures and videos of random fun occurrences, talking with the occasional students, and saying hi and/or hugging the students that like you enough to do so.
The strangest thing for me though was being one of the “young teachers” at the event. Obviously a teacher: everyone at the event knows me as such, but not quite in the loop enough to be in on all the jokes or to comfortably sit at the teachers or admin table in our designated backroom. On a positive note, talking with a new older teacher (he had a late-life career change) was quite enlightening. In the span of a 15-20 minute conversation, I bonded really deeply with the older math teacher, who’s lived in various cities in the country, from LA to Chicago and now Miami. I couldn’t help but think how unfortunate it was that few of his students would ever hear his stories. But the lack of respect and space we leave for older people to spread their experiences/the lack of room in educational curriculum for that experience sharing is an issue for another soliloquy. My final point is definitely going to edge toward the line of taboo.
I’m 23. I’ll be 24 in less than five months. The age gap between my students and I grows larger every year, but this year it’s still uncomfortably close. Chaperoning prom reminded of that, when 90% of the music played could’ve played at my own prom. Watching students who I manage on a regular basis cut loose, knowing that quite a few of them were sneaking flasks or were on their way to a hotel to commit all kinds of debaucheries, is a little unnerving to say the least. Even more disturbing is the truth that for a handful of them, someone my age is dateable (I have a student whose boyfriend is 23). All that adds to the strangeness of being a Prom Chaperone. As cute, clean, or beautiful as the youngin’s are, there’s something that tugs an eye and pulls a nerve about the fact that they’re becoming that much closer to adulthood.
For better or for worse, they’ve reached another milestone and they’re on their way to hardships and honors, congratulations and challenges. I guess I’m really just sad to see the youngins that are like little cousins to me get that much closer to the struggles I’ve dealt with or those that my friends have.
And I guess I just have to deal with that. I’m both proud and perturbed by the fact that my current and former students will have to deal with that too.
So I know this one was a little strange, but that was really on my mind. I’ll be back next week with some more reflections!
Have a great week!