When my kids were in their mid school years - year 10 to be specific, the formal is a big thing. It's like a bloody Debutante's Ball. Black tie and long dresses. Hair is professionally coloured and coiffed, make-up professionally done, months are spent planning the outfitand 'the look'. I had to work really hard on DrummerBoy to convince him that wearing a bright blue suit would make him look like Dick Tracey's alter ego and that a stylish black suit with an uber flashy waistcoat might be a better choice but at least with him, the cost was mitigated by a hired item. All we had to purchase was the shirt and a nice pair of shoes which incidentally were never worn again!
ClareBear was more of a challenge as we scoured shopping centres from Penrith to Double Bay looking for something different. She didn't want to look like a merangue or have one of those stiff satin hired jobs. After an exhausting ordeal we finally settled on a pretty bright pink chiffony bias cut shoestring with sparkly Jimmy Chu style strappies.
Then there's the vehicles - the mode of transport to take you to the formal had to be weird and wonderful - a fire engine, police car, tank or at the very least something vintage or veteran. The arrival at the venue of choice (which in itself was always somewhere posh) was very, very important. Adam chose vintage, Clare - sirens and a police escort - someone's dad would be in trouble! Yep,they were real police cars!
Year 12 is a far more sedate affair. More of a cocktail do where the kids dine in front of the parents' shared tables of 8 at the back. I didn't attend either of my children's Year 12 formals for that reason. What's the point of me sitting next to some parent I've never met whilst my kids and their partners are waaaaaay over there having fun and not really caring whether I was there or not. Then I have to take the steak because there are only two menu choices served alternately, aeroplane style. The person next to me doesn't eat red meat and I really wanted the Chicken Kiev. Formal speeches, formal meal. Lots of sucking up to teachers and a few awards then the brats are set free on the world. Strip into their beach gear and lob on some unsuspecting parent's premises to party hard while we all go home and lament our lost youth.
Now the coup de gras . . . Whilst prattling in the quadrangle at work today as we admin girly swats often do . . .I discovered that there are now three series of formals attended by Australian school children. Year 10 and 12 we've covered . . . University leaving? Nope, they're way over that formal stuff by their early 20's . . .guess, go on . . .Year six! Yep, last year of primary school. They're now hiring suits, getting their hair and make-up done, even choosing novelty transport. The parents have to learn a special dance and the night begins to cost. Instead of the old bottle of red pop and a packet of crisps, it's now a catered affair, a date necessary, a corsage a must . . . I dunno, what's the world coming to . . .next thing you know there will be Kindy Formals, Day Care Debs or God forbid a passing out parade for newborns . . .if so, just make sure you point the camera the other way please!