Sometimes being the parent of a child with autism really, REALLY fucking sucks. It feels like sometimes to me he’s missed out on so much and there’s so much I don’t want him to miss out on because, gorramit, it’s tradition. In another year or so, he’ll be in high school and a big part of being in high school here in Texas is going to homecoming and buying your date (if you’re a guy anyway) a big honking mum.
What is homecoming, you might ask? Homecoming is the game where all the old alumni/alumnus come back to watch their team kick butt (or not) and rehash old times. And a big part of that tradition here in Texas is for the guys to present their dates with something called a mum.Now mum is typically short for chrysanthamum, but here in Texas that little three letter word takes on a whooooooooooole new meaning.
Because we don’t do anything halfway here. A homecoming mum traditionally consists on one or more fake chrysanthamums attached to some sort of cardboard base with ribbons around the outside. More ribbons, some of which might bear printed on words or stick-on letters, dangle from the center of the base. There are also usually strings of plastic beads, charms and sometimes (ok usually) a small cowbell or two. Or six. On the day of the homecoming game, the girls wear these at school and you can hear them as they jangle jangle jangle down the hall with their bells clanking away with every step. I remember, my senior year in high school, there was a girl who had a mum which truly boggled the mind for size/creativity. There was the main mum, which bore three softball sized flowers and a good ten pounds worth of ribbons and charms on the front. Attached to the top of the base was a slender ribbon which held a flower about as big around as the lid of an aspirin bottle which was attached to her shoulder. ANOTHER ribbon went around the back, attached to her jeans right over the center of her butt with an even smaller flower that was around the size of a nickle. She had clearly brought her A-game when it came to mum-ing.
Typically these big creations are created by the guy’s mom with a whole lot of hot glue and sometimes up to several HUNDRED (that’s right) dollars in supplies from the local craft store. Or if the mom isn’t the crafty type, she might turn to a local service (usually advertised by way of mouth or, these days, Facebook) which creates these gargantuan monsters.
Anyway..I suppose the point of this is, when my son gets to high school, I don’t know if he’ll ever ask a girl to homecoming. He doesn’t seem to give a rat’s about this stuff and it makes me sad to think I might never get to make a homecoming mum. I fondly remember making my own mums (because I was a rebel and wanted to wear one even though I never had a date to homecoming myself) and how proud I felt to wear them because I was participating in the tradition and tradition is very important to me. My mother, being from Tennessee, was mystified because they just don’t DO that kind of thing down there.
I don’t know if he’ll ask a girl to homecoming when he gets to high school..but I hope he does.