May 20, 2013 0 Share

Prom Night


The author's son standing in front of limo; driver holds door open.
Photo by Julie van der Poel

Friday night, Cameron attended his high school prom. This wasn’t his first prom, as his school invites all high school students to attend each year, and Cameron had attended the year before last. But the last time Cameron attended, I drove him, and he asked me to pick him up early. This year, he was going with six other students, in a limo. Cameron has always been fascinated by limos, and this luxury ride was partially how I enticed him to attend the prom this year. You see, in order for Cameron to attend the prom, he would miss a night of work at the pizzeria. This was a hard decision for Cameron … until the limo became part of the deal.

I missed my deadline for submitting this column so that I could report on every last exciting detail of Cameron’s prom experience. I just knew this was going to be a break out moment for Cameron. I’m regularly caught by surprise by Cameron’s break out moments, but this one was so predictable I could practically taste it. This prom had the promise of being something special. Instead of going solo, Cameron would be with a group of “friends.” Cameron would be riding in a limo, instead of excitedly pointing it out as it passed by. He would be staying out past midnight. (I had to coach him on the fact that it would be okay to be out late. I reminded him that he’s 18 now, and staying up past 10:30 is something he can do, and should do every now and then.) He was going as part of a group, and maybe he would even ask a girl to dance. He rejected my offer to rent him a tux, but did don the same coat and tie he wore two years ago. I eagerly stayed awake until he arrived back home, anxious to see a certain glow on his face.

So maybe I got a little ahead of myself. Whenever I predict a break out moment for Cameron I should remind myself that break out moments happen when least expected. Cameron arrived home with more sleep in his eye than twinkle. Waiting until the next morning for details didn’t prove to be a more successful strategy of intel gathering than grilling him when he walked in the door. No amount of open ended questions provided any insight into the evening. In response to “What was the best part of the night?” I got silence. I’m not disappointed or even surprised by Cameron’s lack of enthusiasm towards his prom experience. I just wish … sigh … I just wish Cameron would exhibit some form of excitement about something. And when I say “excited” I mean “excited” and not “anxious.” I wish he would look forward to special events and not fret over them. I wish I had more insight into how he experiences these events. They seem to come and go without much reaction from Cameron. Does he experience them differently internally? Is his lack of noticeable expression part of his language-based learning issues? I wish I knew.

What I really wish is that what seems to make Cameron the happiest wasn’t to be left alone.