Monday, January 19, 2009

A lesson in courage

We all remember middle school, don't we? The name of the game was conformity--don't stand out or make yourself different in any way shape or form. Because if you do, you'll get laughed at...and that is a fate worse than death.

Now, for Maddy, the beginning of middle school has also meant the start of cotillion. Cotillion is where kids go to learn social graces and dancing. Girls wear white gloves and the boys wear ties. It seems to me a very southern thing. Luckily they engineer the dancing so that there is no being "asked" to dance. You are paired with whomever you promenade in with--girls on one side, boys the other. Older kids act as helpers and fill in partner gaps. There is never the embarrassment of being left sitting against the wall.

Not being a native Richmonder, I didn't understand the importance of cotillion and its associated rituals when we went through this process with Jim. Among these: that cotillion carpools are best established while the kids are still in utero; that you need a posse of friends to go cruise the mall with afterwards; and finally, that even when you dress kids up in nice clothes and white gloves, the boys will still act like they're too cool and the girls will be giggly. We moved to Richmond too late to get Jim into a fun carpool, so he missed out on all that.

Maddy's cotillion carpool is made up of 5 girls who have been her good friends since preschool. They don't all go to the same school now, but have managed to stay close. My first experience driving the carpool was enlightening; on our way to dinner afterward, the girls all talked about which boys have sweaty palms, can't lead, or lead well. (The boys who do know the dances and lead rank high on their list of desirable partners!) Each dance has a theme, so in early November the girls wore "patriotic colors" to coincide with the election, and in December they have a Holly Ball which they attend with their dad or Mom (or in Maddy's case with Jim. This past weekend was "Disco Fever."

When Maddy got home from school on Friday, we started working on her "disco" outfit, and I must say we came up with something worthy of Studio 54. Black slinky pants, a silver lame camisole topped with a black bolero sweater, and dangly earrings. But the piece de resistence was the afro wig Maddy insisted on wearing (it had been part of Joe's halloween costume). To be safe, I put her hair in a bun so if she decided not to wear the wig the whole night, she'd still look good.

That girl worked the outfit!!! She wore the wig for the whole evening, and received quite a few compliments to boot! I didn't think she'd have the guts to see the outfit through for the whole evening. I told her if she could have fun with it and laugh at herself for doing it, all the better. And she did. I never would've had the balls to do that in 6th grade. I'm so proud of her.

So, put yourself out there! Don't be afraid. You might surprise yourself.

14 comments:

Lynn said...

Awesome! I love Maddy Moo!!! You go girl!

Marit Chrislock-Lauterbach said...

That's fantastic! Good job to the MOM - you've raised a heckuva daughter! :) The future is bright - way to go Maddy!

rr said...

Your Maddy is awesome! Great photo!!

Pedergraham said...

Oh my!

Kate said...

Good for her, my daughter hated Cotillion.

SusieQ said...

Go Maddy Go!!

tri-ing races not cases said...

Way to go Maddy! You rock! No doubt picking up on that great courage and charisma from her folks.

TriGirl 40 (okay - 41) said...

Maddy does the wig and disco era quite well. And your post reminded me of the song - "I Hope You Dance!"

Jennifer Harrison said...

MADDY IS AWESOME, Kate!!! :)) what a great blog!

Jennifer Cunnane said...

Its great that Maddy wanted to be true to herself and not worry about what others think! You are a great parent!

Mel said...

Great post Kate.....the things girls will do these days and not care what others think (which is a good way to go:)take chances is true!!! I love the photo...forsure one she will laugh and cherish later in life:)

kerrie said...

those are some great outfits! how interesting though, i had never heard of that...i learn something new everyday!

Gwen said...

Lucky Girl to have five friends from preschool! For many families newer to Richmond whose children don't have preschool friends, or for children who are shy or who are new to a particular school, cotillion carpool selection is a very painful and humiliating experience. This is particularly true for children of mommies who work full time who can't get into the carpool "loop" until it's too late. I wish there were a better system so children don't have their feelings hurt.

Glad your child had a good experience with this rite of passage.

TriGirl Kate O said...

Gwen,
I hear you loud and clear. That was our first cotillion experience with our older son Jim 13 years ago--new city, new school, and no close buddies to carpool with. Jim HATED cotillion for those reasons. We parents had a hard time adjusting and finding friends too, but we have come to really love it. I hope you will too!