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Do Manners Matter?

My daughter went to the spring ball with her cotillion group.  What is cotillion, you ask?  Manners class.  Dance class.  The formal training to whip our youth into shape. :)

I only know of this organization because as a youth, I was forced to attend myself.  My first year was in ninth grade and I didn’t know a soul.  The cotillion teacher happened to be a close friend of my Aunt Jan, a grand cotillion mistress herself, so having my brothers, sister and I join the club seemed to be a no-brainer.  For everyone else but us, that is!  You want me to dance with boys?  Boys I don’t even know?

Ugh.  The horror!  But alas, I must confess, I am forever grateful.  As an adult, this training has served me well.  Through the years there has been occasion where I was glad to know how to follow a man’s moves on the dance floor without looking the fool.  I was glad to be able to reply “yes” when the handsome fellow asked me to dance.  Cha-cha?  Of course I cha-cha!  Who doesn’t?

My daughter is now in middle school and like her parent before her, is forced to attend cotillion.  Do I have to go?  I hate it!

Yes, dear.  Once a month, it’s not going to kill you.  You’ll thank me later.  Good thing I can wait.  The child is not happy, though you couldn’t tell from this image, now can you?  Now slip on those little white gloves and paste a smile onto your face–you’re going.  And don’t forget your dance card!

While she’s no fan of dancing with boys at the moment, she does enjoy the fact that they have to wait on her.  Hand and foot, make sure she’s seated, isn’t thirsty, hungry.  Would you care for more lemonade? (Yea, that was one my favorite parts, too.)

And all of the young ladies looked divine, especially when escorted by their equally fine clad young gentlemen!

The attire for this ball was quite formal, with a black and white theme.  T he boys rented tuxedos and the girls secured beautiful ball gowns.  Most are probably bridesmaid dresses or prom wear, but it was fun to dress up.  Even my child will admit to that.

Next month?  They’ll have a fifties swing-fling. Not sure why we’re still stuck on the fifties.  That worked for my parents–they lived the music!  But me?  I have no poodle skirt stuffed into the back of my closet.  No saddle shoes or hair bows.  Hmph.  Perhaps I’ll be making my way to the thrift store.

Because it is fun.  Just to prove it, the cotillion headmistress allowed her third year students to line dance.

A kid’s gotta have some fun, right?  Absolutely!  Dulls the pain and convinces them to come back next year!  Really it’s not so bad.  Not once you get used to it–kinda like jumping into a pool of cool water.  At first it’s *shriek!* but then, not so bad.  Actually, once these kids get the hang of ballroom dancing, they tend to enjoy it.  Oddly enough, especially the boys. :)

Poor Daddy…  (Get your hands off my daughter.  Where’s my rifle–I need to clean it.  If she cries, you cry.  And so on…)  But he too, will survive.  Besides, everything is more fun when you have friends with you, right?  Our grand scheme for next year’s grand ball?

Enlist some friends to sign up for cotillion, of course!  How about you?  Ever had to endure the dreaded cotillion ball?  Did you enjoy it?  Would you recommend it to a friend?

Could prove to be a memorable experience for them.  Was for me.  And my siblings.  Thank you, Aunt Jan! 

And I’m living proof my daughter will survive her bout with manners school.  Not only survive, but thrive!  Not to mention being the only one at the table who knows where that fussy teaspoon is supposed to go.  Or which way the knife blade should face.  (I can hear my mother now:  Didn’t I send you to cotillion?)

Yes, dear.

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