Several weeks ago, our beautiful daughter, Aubrey, announced that she had been voted to be the Freshman Attendant on the Homecoming Court. I was ecstatic! I had never received such an honor in school and was so excited to experience it with her. We immediately started planning our dress shopping day and all the fun we would have together.
The following day, she brought home a contract that she had to sign. The contract stated that we would allow 'The Queen' to pick her dress....huh?!? I'm sorry, I thought this was Homecoming. I didn't realize it was the queen's wedding.
Thinking back to how it worked when I was in school, all of the members of the court got to choose whatever they wanted to wear. (Suits were the attire of choice way back when.) And no one even found out which Senior Attendant was 'The Queen' until halftime of the Homecoming Game. Right? Shouldn't there be a level of suspense here? So, why is it that we even know who the queen is, much less, hand over our checkbooks to her and allow her to choose our daughter's dress?
Please allow me to take this moment to make something very clear. I hold nothing against the girl who was chosen as queen. My kids have nothing but wonderful things to say about her and although I don't know her well, from my few interactions with her, she seems like a great and down-to-earth girl. She did nothing that wasn't within her rights under the 'law' of this (stupid) tradition. That being said, here we go...
Due to the timing of the vote and the date of the game, we had less than two weeks to make all this happen. We were told on a Friday night that they were going dress shopping on Sunday. We weren't available to go that day. We received word on Sunday evening that Aubrey should bring $200 to school on Wednesday so that they could go pick up her dress. Let's hold on one second here, shall we? We're expected to hand over $200 for a dress, sight unseen, that may not even look right on my daughter and it may very well end up hanging in the back of a closet forever because she hates it so much.....sound about right? Not to this Momma.
Other than my part time massage clients, my husband is our sole provider. As equal partners in this marriage, I see my role with the finances as protector and respecter. He would freely hand over the checkbook to me without so much as a question and I could very easily take advantage of that, but I promise you, I wouldn't be able to sleep at night if I did. I love and respect him too much for that.
I also love and respect my daughter. She is worthy of a $200 dress and I didn't want her to think otherwise, but here's the deal. Just as my husband sets the standard of a man for Zac to look up to, I'm the standard my daughters see. (Heaven help them.) This is where lessons are taught and examples are set. This is life and this is where the rubber meets the road.
I had to strike a delicate balance between respect for the checkbook and respect for my daughter. I wasn't about to rock the boat for her at school or rob her of the excitement of this huge honor. This was about her, and this was for her, so I proceeded with caution.
I found out the store they chose the dress from, the color and name of the exact dress, and I looked it up on-line. Cute dress. Short dress. Certainly not a $200 dress. I'm not a good shopper, so my next step was to take full advantage of the shopping skills of my several hundred closest Facebook friends. (Technology is great!) I posted the dress information and posted my offer...."free massage to whoever finds the cheapest version of this dress." And, voila! Twenty minutes later, Alison, (ironically a friend I met in Massage School), came through with flying colors. We lined the two dresses up on the screen and Aubrey and I went over it with a fine tooth comb. To our eye, they were a perfect match. But I didn't want to take this lightly, so my next step was to ask another girl on the court who had already purchased the 'real' dress. I sent her our link and she couldn't find a difference. So that evening, we ordered Aubrey's Homecoming dress from Amazon for a mere $66 and a massage. Thank you Alison! And while we're on the topic of awesome friends, a friend from church who is a hair stylist offered to come to our house to do her hair! Thank you Melanie!
Next stop, shoes. We headed to the mall and found $55 shoes marked down to...ready for this?...$6.97. Yes, that's right, six dollars and ninety seven cents! And they fit me too! (But that's neither here nor there.)
Dress, check. Shoes, check. Hair, check. Let's see, what other fun things could we squeeze into this experience....aaahhhh.....pedicures! Back to the mall we went. Aubrey had a wonderful young girl who gave her a luxurious experience and not only painted her nails but decorated them too! I, on the other hand, had a surgical-glove-wearing, angry Vietnamese woman, who communicated to me through mean taps to my legs and if I didn't understand, I was rewarded with harder taps and vicious glares. How relaxing.
Over dinner with Aubrey, I pointed out our victory. We got her dress, shoes, hair, nails, make-up, and hair accessories and it still didn't add up to the price of the 'real' dress. (Whoo Hoo and high fives all around.) That's what we call success!
But the following day I received an angry phone call. Not from the Queen, but from the "Queen Mother." She heard that we bought a 'different' dress. I assured her that the dress wasn't 'different' but that it simply cost a lot less. She proceeded to fill my ear with tales of distraught court mothers, a distraught queen, who I'd apparently "disrespected", and even one distraught male escort from the football team. (We can't have a distraught football player, now can we.) It seems I had single handedly ruined Homecoming with Aubrey's 'different' dress and she demanded to come inspect the dress because her dress wasn't acceptable 'sight unseen.' (Oh the irony.)
A little back story on me here. I have a long history with a controlling narcissist in my life. My role was to 'fight' and I lived up to my role. The narcissist loves a good fight and thrives on conflict and the role of victim they get to play after the very fight they started in the first place. I've spent the past 3 years enmeshed in Beth Moore workbooks making changes in my behavior and subsequently learning how to handle narcissists. I'm practically a professional at this point. The lesson: Don't fight and the narcissist eventually loses interest and goes away. Mark my words. It works.
So it took me about 5 minutes for my 'narcissist red flag' to raise in my head and I knew what I was dealing with and I adjusted my responses accordingly. I struggled with my 'fighting seeds' as they desperately tried to push to the surface. I could have (and would have loved to) rip this woman to shreds and leave her weeping in my wake. But this wasn't about me. This wasn't about the queen. This wasn't even about this woman. This was about my daughter. So I fought the good fight. I went against my very nature and I fought the fight of patience and grace and I took one for the team. Not because I had to, or because I wanted to, but because of a love that is greater than the need to be 'right.'
I endured five phone calls in the span of one afternoon. I stayed as quiet as I could and let the narcissist do all the talking. (They love that.) I even kept from laughing aloud when she told me that other women resent her because she's so attractive. (Wow. Classic narcissist. They're either 'too attractive, too smart, too holy, or too victimized' to see that they actually crave the conflict.) Between rantings about the dress, slight bits of the truth began to emerge, and pretty soon it became clear that the only person upset about this was the narcissist herself, and I can totally live with that.
Last night was the big game. Aubrey looked beautiful. She had a cheering section full of extended family. All the girls matched and all the moms were friendly and happy...except for one. After the game, one of the other court mothers approached me and seemed a little perturbed as she leaned in to tell me something. In an angry whisper she said, "I wish we'd ordered the $66 dollar dress too!!"