On prom dates

You know those videos that go viral- the ones where a typical teen asks a classmate or friend with Down Syndrome to the prom?  It’s posted on social media, and people share it, and then NBC picks it up, and all of a sudden it has 20k views.  And everyone is all like…

“So glad to see her parents raised her right!”

“Her parents that instilled great morals and a foundation for loving those less fortunate deserve all the credit.”

“I hope to raise kids that would be willing to do this.”

“People need to learn special needs are people too…. How nice… Have a awesome time.. Nice upbringing parents… Did a terrific job!”

“What a warm gesture! This is a real friend! Hope you both have a great time!”

“nice job young lady,,,,,,,,”


I don’t know.  I’m not super cranky about it.  Maybe just a little cranky.  And my husband is out and my kids are sleeping, so why not blog about it?

I get it, ok.  I don’t think that every teen who invites a friend with a disability to prom has some desire for attention, even if they foresee they may receive it.  I’ve worked with teens; I think they’re great.  I think, more often than not, they do things like this because they know their friend would enjoy it, and they know they’d have fun too.  I assume her intentions are pure and not in some weird way self-serving.

It’s just…the comments.

I know the commenters I quoted above have good intentions.

I guess I just end up feeling like the kid with the disability is the charity case.   The comments almost drip with pity.  How the girl is “willing” to do this.  What a “warm gesture.”   How she was “raised right.”

I mean, I’ll admit, she really did a “terrific job” asking someone out to the prom.  It can be really hard to say the words, “Would you go to prom with me?” and she didn’t even struggle through the sentence.  She did a “nice job!”

You see what I’m getting at?  You would never, with sincerity, praise someone like this for asking someone else on a date.  Unless, of course, you viewed the “someone else” as “less than.”  As a cause.  As a person who couldn’t possibly be chosen as a date if it weren’t for the generosity and sacrifice of another.

Is it just so beyond our comprehension that this girl could have asked him to prom because she knew she would have the most fun with him?  They’re friends- presumably, there’d be none of the typical pressure that a girl may experience on prom night.  They probably have a great time just being themselves together and not having to worry about making a certain impression on each other.  Maybe the boy has some killer dance moves she knows about.  Maybe he has a way to make her laugh and let loose.  Maybe he always holds the door for her, and treats her like a lady.

But when outside eyes look at the video (and granted, they’ve been invited to look), they don’t see two friends who plan to go to prom together.

They see an awesome girl who is “loving the less fortunate.”

And that kind of hurts.

I hope that someday, Paul has a friend like this.  A friend who just enjoys him for who he is.  And if she asks him to prom, I’ll be thrilled for the both of them.  But maybe we’ll forego the video.



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