I remember one day when my daughter was in the fourth grade.
I waited for the kids to come out along with mom’s friend, and while we waited we watched the 8th graders get ready for graduation.
I remember being surprised that the girls wore literal dresses and heels, their hair in intricate hairstyles and carefully applied makeup.
The boys were in suits.
So many pictures and giggles, flashes of tiaras and pebbles in the afternoon sun.
My friend jokingly said that I should immediately start saving for my daughter’s 8th grade graduation:
“There is so much more these days! Not like when we were in high school. ” I smiled at her joke and that was it.
Turns out she wasn’t kidding.
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Class 8 fitting check
The first hint that the 8th grade would be a great thing was the weekly bulletin of the principal. She has a habit of stating the dates of the note, going further, and at the bottom of the list was a simple line: June 28 – 8th grade and boat cruise. That’s it. No information, no details.
But then a little lower, there was a connection with a service that rents city clothes for a small deposit: if you dry-clean and return the clothes, you will return your deposit. The very existence of this organization told me that I was about to land in a deep crowd, and maybe my friend’s mom was right after all.
I pulled hard on my brain box to bring back memories from my own 8th grade graduation. I remember the pink cotton dress my mom took to Zellers, the baby ballerinas made of blue lacquered plastic, and the naughty fingerprints from the pharmacy on the afternoon of the big event.
I distinctly remember winning the award and having to give a short speech, on stage in the hall, in front of all the parents and teachers. I also remember the dance that followed in that same hall, which was also a cafeteria and always had that mild smell of stale cheese and tuna salad. But that night he had a disco ball and sound system that played Cindy Lauper’s biggest hits and an expanded version Stairs to heaven.
It was a great night.
Suddenly I started to get a little excited that Nikki would have a similar experience.
When I imagined her graduation in 8th grade, I imagined something like what I got: a cute dress and shoes, a little ceremony and maybe a dance. Nothing too classy, right?
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The Art of the Grad
“Mom! Someone added me to a group talk for 8th graders on SnapChat and they ask me when my dress time is. ”
What is this now?
It turns out that there are several chic boutiques in the city that set dates in March and April for 8th grade girls to come and find the dress of their dreams.
Now, I know Zellers is long gone, but a quick browse of websites for these actions left me stunned and more than a little worried that my friend was not only not kidding, but actually selling the problem insufficiently.
The average price was between $ 250 and $ 300. For the dress.
That my child would probably wear only once.
And those were not the pink cotton ensembles of my time, but satin and lace, rhinestones and crinolines. These were prom dresses I could imagine on a 17-year-old, not on my 13-year-old!
Anyway, the dress was just the beginning.
Then there were shoes, bag, hair accessories, makeup, hair and mani-pedi term.
Everything is discussed and dissected in a way that only 13-year-olds can do: with complete renunciation and only a hint of condemnation.
It’s all a lot
I was quickly thrilled, looking over my child’s shoulders to see selfies of some of her classmates who were already in meetings: shoulderless and strapless dresses, some knee-length, some floor-length ball gowns. Most of these looks would not be out of place for Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.
I could see her getting excited watching everyone go shopping for dresses and I wanted her to get involved, but reality jumped in a second before I picked up the phone to book an appointment in the form of a monthly credit card statement.
So we talked about what was real for us, and her group chat helped in sending links to several sites that had nice dresses for much less money.
Like I said, if we didn’t spend it all on the dress, we had enough for the rest of her ensemble. Since she was going through the “I want all the handbags I see” phase at the time, that was all the encouragement needed.
She spent the next few days browsing dresses online, taking screenshots and sharing them with a group chat, asking the girls for their opinion.
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Final Push, With tears
She finally narrowed it down to four. I immediately put the X on one because it reveals more than I would feel comfortable seeing a 30-year-old (imagine a very short slit on the side, a tight saddle with pebbles and you have a picture). The other three were wonderful, so the choice was up to her.
From her point of view, this was a huge decision. She struggled around it for two days and finally chose a gorgeous navy blue slim satin dress with little fluttery sleeves. It has lace on the front and V down the back, with a tight waist and a fluttering skirt that is a little longer at the back, giving the impression of a train flying at knee height. It was absolute perfection and cost $ 75, with free shipping. SOLD!
She also found matching navy blue wedge sandals with rhinestones over her fingertips, which matched her navy blue handbag with rhinestones on the handles. And I found the perfect satin dark blue headband with, you guessed it, more rhinestones. A small scarf in a lighter shade of glittery blue for an evening on a boat cruise and she was ready.
She tried everything on when she arrived: it stood like a glove and looked beautiful and elegant. I started crying. This was my baby! And suddenly she looked very grown up. She has been doing makeup and manicures for some time, a fan of makeup videos on YouTube, so she tried out a few looks, all of which were very pretty. And I started crying again. Who was that person? How old was she already to go to high school, with big kids? I wanted to grab her and scream to run to where my little girl would stay forever.
Since “Never Never Land” doesn’t really exist, I wiped away my tears and made an appointment for her haircut, wanting her to have as much experience as we can get out of it. After all, the last two years have been pretty miserable: no travel, no dancing, no typical high school experiences. This was an opportunity for the normal and I wanted her to have everything, within reason.
And in a way, I am happy for the rigmarole process we went through to prepare her for this occasion. It gave me the opportunity to really see her in a different way, less as my little baby and more as a beautiful, funny and charming young lady as she becomes. When she crosses the stage to get her “diploma”, I will still cry, but she said that she will lend me her waterproof mascara, so I guess I’m ready too.