About a year ago, I wrote THIS post, explaining how Jude had been invited to join Cotillion. Here's the invitation...
We were told that...
Cotillion is a multi-year series of semi-formal dancing parties with etiquette instruction where girls and boys are afforded the opportunity to develop social skills, acquire and practice good manners, increase self-esteem, and prepare themselves to experience any social situation with confidence.
Don't you love it! It's everything that a civilized and well-bred young man should know. Once a month, they go to the beautiful Wilshire Ebell for a formal dance.
Girls are required to wear modest party dresses with covered shoulders and backs, white gloves, socks or hose, and low-heeled dancing shoes. Boys are required to wear suits or sport coats with dress slacks, dress shirt and tie, dress shoes and dark socks.
As delighted as I was in this endeavor, Jude was NOT interested in any part of it. He thought it would be painfully stupid and booooring. But I insisted. All his friends were doing it, which helped a little, but still, he was not looking forward to it. I forced him into his little good suit and tie and told him to give it a try.
And guess what? He LOVES it!
Every dance begins with a formal lesson in some social skill - proper grooming, how to make a proper introduction, how to be a proper escort. They then do some dancing - the fox trot, the polka, the waltz - it's all very civilized and correct. They dance with a different girl each dance, switching partners in a circle.
Then at some point in the evening, they are told that the partner they are with at that moment is their "date" and they are to seat her, get her refreshments (punch and a cookie) and then make small talk for a few minutes.
While he certainly welcomed the reason/excuse to actually touch a girl, he seemed most interested in the "date" portion of the evening. He takes the whole "small talk" thing very seriously. He actually enjoys the opportunity to talk with a girl he's never met and kind of "chat her up". He's sort of worrisomely good at this.
He enjoyed the first Cotillion so much that he decided to take more of an interest in his appearance, going for a haircut and bowtie...
I have no pictures of this second Cotillion because he asked me to "PLEASE stop taking pictures!". This time, his "date" was a vivacious little brunette named Brooke, who he got on with like gangbusters. During their whole "small talk" time, they both talked animatedly, and she would occasionally throw back her head in laughter. It was very disconcerting for a mother. Afterwards, I asked him what he and Brooke had chatted about and he informed me that her school was in BelAir, that "her favorite subject is math, her favorite colors are purple and pink, and her favorite animals are puppies and koalas". I guess he interviewed her or something.
The December Cotillion was...bestill my middle-aged maternal heart...a Mother/Son, Father/Daughter Cotillion! I took the opportunity for us to have a little date...
We even made small talk throughout our dinner. Though he never asked me what my favorite animal was.
This whole Cotillion thing has been an excellent social experience for him. That whole "develop social skills, acquire and practice good manners, increase self-esteem, and prepare themselves to experience any social situation with confidence" business is really working. He's suddenly terribly comfortable talking to people he doesn't know, he never gets shy.
I haven't been staying and spying on him for the last few Cotillions, I thought I should give him a little space, but I get the scoop in the car on the way home. One month he stared out the window most of the way home and finally murmured "I wonder if that girl is thinking about me right now." I swear to God that's what he said. Good Lord. Last month, he asked if he could wear a little of Jimmy's cologne, and insisted on using hair gel. And sure enough, his "date" that night was with the little girl he's had a crush on since preschool. He acted terribly cool about it on the ride home "Mom, you won't believe who I was paired with..." but I could tell that inside he was all atwitter.
And since Cotillion began, his manners have been excellent! He opens doors and pulls out chairs and has been practicing his proper introduction skills. It's all very serious. The other day, he was ordering in a restaurant and the waitress smiled at him and said "My goodness, you are so polite!" It was the best thing a mother could hear!
So let's hope that it's the good manners part of this whole experience that sticks with him, not the touching girls part. I figure good manners will serve him well in all areas of life. And if he ends up enjoying the touching girls part, he'll be able to get away with it more successfully if he does it in a polite and well-mannered way!
Please click below and read Ginny Marie and my other Manners spinners. It's the well-mannered thing to do!
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