The Dangers of Living Vicariously

I keep stumbling along. I’m not quite awake enough to get anything right. Late last night, I had to join a new Facebook group in order to offer up extra graduation tickets I’d acquired. I only needed four. The school gave us eight for free, but somehow I ended up buying five extra in the confusion of senior week. I managed to get nine more tickets than I needed and I paid for some of them to boot. Stumbling. I am barely stumbling along.

So, I gave up trying to get that money back since the school wouldn’t give me a refund or take the tickets. Instead, I joined a Facebook group for Nick’s school district and posted a general note about it. That was nearly midnight last night. This morning, I got a bunch of requests from people before I realized they were talking about one school and I was talking about another.

I didn’t even realize there was another high school in that district. There is but it's on the lowdown.

I really wanted to tell you about prom.

No, I didn’t go to prom, but I did live vicariously.

In the last episode, I told you that Nick had been rejected by the cool group of kids going to prom and I was heartbroken for him.

The next couple of days, I tip-toed around the subject, but since I either needed to get cracking on tailoring the fit of his suit or returning it, I needed to know. It might take a couple of extra days to do the tailoring. It was hard-linings, cuffs, and four formal buttons all in a row.

On Tuesday morning, three days before prom night, I walked past Nick as he hunched over his bowl of Chex. I patted his back.

“Hnnn,” he said as a greeting.

“Good morning, sweetie,” I said. “Did you figure out what you’re doing on Saturday night?”

“Hnnn,” he said.

Okay, I’d have to try again later, maybe after he’d gotten out of the shower and was throwing lunch into his backpack five minutes after he was supposed to be out the door already.

So, I slowly unloaded the dishwasher. Five more minutes. Then, I started the Tetris game of loading the dishwasher to maximum capacity. Nick dashed into the kitchen, tossing out yesterday’s veggies, and putting dirty containers next to the sink. Why couldn’t he put them directly into the dishwasher and save me the effort? Seriously.

“I need to know if you’re going to prom or not so I can alter your suit in time. You know, you could ask that girl who’s in your lunch group. Do you know if anyone asked her? It’s always more fun going to prom with a friend.”

“I’m going, Mom.”

“You are? Okay. Okay, that’s great.”

I’m not sure I sounded very enthusiastic. I pictured him walking through those double-doors by himself on Saturday night and trying to fit into the group that decided their group was full. And then Nick left for school without looking at me, without saying goodbye.

That kid had some courage. Nick was going to prom even though his friend had allowed some little wanker in that group exclude him.

After that, I procrastinated my complicated sewing job and left to meet my friend Rachel for a walk instead. When she stepped out of her car and opened the hatch to let Max out, she said, “So, isn’t it funny that the kids are going to prom together?”

“What?” I said.

“Nick didn’t tell you?”

“No! Well, okay! Okay! That’s so cool!”

And suddenly, Nick went from being that brave yet ostracized boy who goes to prom by himself to being that boy who goes to prom with a real girl. Let me tell you, this girl is sweet, smart, and beautiful.

I floated through that walk. Nick wasn’t alone after all.

I really am invested in Nick’s happiness, maybe more than I should be.

As a mom, I try not to feel the pressure of his schoolwork, but I do. I try not to feel his failure or his success, but I do. I know I have no hope of keeping his heartbreak out of my own heart. But his joy is there too. It always will be, well after I’ve stopped worrying about school and jobs and success.

So Nick went to prom with his friend.

He had a great time!

And, I lived vicariously, just for a few hours.

Thank you for listening, jb