Creating perfect prom memories

By Danielle Scroggins | Published Saturday, May 26, 2018

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A few weeks ago, Decatur High School celebrated the one formal event of the year: Prom. There were dresses, tuxedos, fake eyelashes, limousines, sparkly shoes, gold shoes, and tennis shoes.

That last pair of shoes belonged to my daughter.

PICTURE PERFECT – Danielle Scroggins poses on the Decatur Square with her daughter, Madison. Photo courtesy of Danielle Scroggins

I’ll be honest, we approached this prom process very tentatively. First of all, my daughter, the thespian, doesn’t follow all the social norms of a typical high school junior. Because of that, she was unsure if she even wanted to attend such a traditional event. I left the decision open for most of the year as I wanted her to find her own way.

While I didn’t want to pressure her to attend, I did ask her to consider attending either her junior or senior year. I wanted her to “check that box.” I wanted her to be able to look back on high school and think, “I attended a football game. I went to a pep rally. I listened to the band. I went to prom.”

I don’t know if those are needed boxes or not, but my perspective on parenting sums up to this: I’m trying to fill her apple cart to the top before I send her out into the world to find her own apples. She needs spiritual apples, scholastic apples, family apples, social apples – all kinds of apples. Prom seemed like a sparkly, social, nostalgic apple to add to the pile.

Still tentative, she made the following deal: If we found an outfit, she would go this year.

When the day of prom shopping arrived, I was nervous. I’d heard all the horror stories of fitting, cost, emotions, and failures in finding the dress. The pressure seemed really intense, but we decided that fate would show us the way. If she found a dress, it was meant to be. If she didn’t, it was not.

We started with a lovely lunch on the Denton square, and stopped at one of our favorite specialty stores afterward. My secret plan was to set the mood for fun and bonding.

We then headed to the mall and saw about three dresses available in her size.

Because of her theater costuming experiences, she knew North East Mall had a million dresses in a million sizes, so down the highway we went. We hit the jackpot at Dillard’s department store’s third floor prom department. With zillions of dresses to choose from, we chose all of them. Literally. She may have tried on every single dress in the store. But when she came out in a mermaid style, gold, high low skirt twirling, I knew we’d found the one. And yes, I cried.

As we left the store, I suggested we run by the shoe department. We rounded the corner, and a beautiful, sparkly pair of shoes caught our eye. We both knew those were the perfect accent for the perfect dress for my perfect out-of-the-box untraditional child.

We celebrated with pizza and some crystals.

As prom day approached, we put together the outfit with an antique family Cameo, a handbag I carried to my junior prom, and bobby pins my sister wore to her junior prom. Everything mattered and was intentional.

On prom day, we shared my bathroom as I styled her hair. I showed her some make-up tips, and she showed me how to do a cat eye. I made snacks, and we drank out of crystal glasses. She made a playlist, but made sure to pick some songs from my generation.

To say I was giddy is a ghastly understatement. I enjoyed every second of that entire day. I loved spending time with my daughter and creating this special, iconic, nostalgic moment. I loved seeing her excited, and seeing her laugh at me. She was ready by 3 p.m., and I presented her with a corsage from A Ray of Flowers, designed especially for her dress and her personality. It was beautiful and the perfect addition.

It was time for pictures. So many pictures. Pictures in the backyard, pictures on the porch, pictures in the house, pictures with her brothers, pictures with us, and then pictures on the square. For those of you whom have not experienced the square on prom night, let me prepare you. There were a zillion people there and my introvert started to show. But we pressed on, and captured the moment on the steps with old friends, new friends and fellow classmates. She was glowing. Everyone was glowing. It was pure, effervescent fun.

After the pictures, we sent her on her way with a late curfew. We asked her to be safe. We hoped she would have fun. We turned toward Trinity Street Coffee and found our own friends and shared the night with them. Did I say it was perfect?

If you’re wondering if she had fun, the answer is she had the time of her life. Sunday she bubbled over with stories of the venue, the dancing, the food, the friends, the giggling and “doing just dumb teenager stuff.”

That’s all I wanted. I wanted her to partake in the dumb teenager stuff, to let go and live in the moment, to appreciate this time in her life and accent it with a little glitter. Later in the day, she came up to me, gave me a hug, and said “Mom, thank you so much for making prom happen. I can’t wait to go next year.”

Best moment ever.

Danielle Scroggins is a Decatur resident, Decatur High school graduate, former teacher and mother of three. She writes a monthly column, Life is Kid’s Stuff, for the Messenger.

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