Betsy Hart, supermom

This piece actually appeared in today’s Mobile paper, but since I am unable to find it online I’ve linked to the Charlotte News-Observer. (, worst website ever.) Anyway, Betsy Hart, who I can’t say I know much about, has resolved to chaperone every single one of her four (4) children’s school dances, or at least the ones they are “allowed to attend.” This is because she read a story about a mom chaperoning in Argyle, Texas, who tried to separate couples doing some kind of (how I hate this vulgar term, but now is the time to use it) dry-hump thing called the “freak dance.” Mayhem ensued.

I’m reading this on low caffeine, but what I’m taking away for right now is this:

1) There is NOTHING that could induce me to chaperone a school dance. NOTHING. No matter how freaky the terpsichorean antics.

2) $400 is an awful lot to pay for a prom dress. But then, I read on a message board recently that “prom is about the most formal dress occasion you will ever have, except for your wedding.” For a lot of people, I guess that’s true. Me, I’m glad I live in a town with Mardi Gras balls.

3) No matter what other permissive parents do, Ms. Hart intends to “find out what’s going on, turn up the lights at all times and always be ready to protect them from themselves whether they like it (or us!) or not.” I’m wondering, just how long will she keep this up? Will she chaperone her children’s dates? Will she be there in the college dorm “turning up the lights”? I can just see her offspring on his wedding night…room service knocks at the door and the poor kid jumps out of his skin.

Betsy, honey, they grow up. They’re sexual creatures. No, you don’t install a waterbed in their rooms, put a mirror on the ceiling and a deadbolt on the door and tell them to have at it; but at some point, when they start going away further and further and staying away longer and longer, you have to recognize that you can’t control what they do, that you’re not always going to be able to turn up the lights and find out what’s going on. And that the best way to make sure nothing regrettable happens is to make sure they’re prepared. Prepared not to be taken advantage of or exploited, prepared to say “no,” of course we want that; but also prepared to guard against pregnancy and STDs.

4) That said, this “freak dance” does seem to be in very poor taste.  But gee, from what I remember the 70s were all about gluing yourself to your partner, pelvis to pelvis, and gently rotating while “Free Bird” or “Stairway to Heaven” were played.  This was laughably called a “slow dance.” However, Betsy seems to be a few years younger than me,  so it’s possible they’d cleaned all that up by the time she went to prom.

I think this kind of thing has been going on for a long, long time, though. After all, they banned the waltz once.  I refer Ms. Hart to one of the final chapters of Booth Tarkington’s Penrod, published in 1914. Fanchon, an out-of-town guest from the big city, has taught a new dance called the “Slingo Sligo Slide” to the guests at Penrod’s twelfth birthday party:

“What are they doing?” gasped Mrs. Williams, blushing deeply.”What is it? What is it?”

“What is it?” Mrs. Gelbraith echoed in a frightened whisper. “What—”

“They’re Tangoing!” cried Margaret Schofield. “Or Bunny Hugging, or Grizzly Bearing, or—”

“They’re only Turkey Trotting,” said Robert Williams.

With fearful outcries the mothers, aunts and sisters rushed upon the pavilion.

4 Responses to “Betsy Hart, supermom”

  1. Kathy says:

    “It consistently stuns me that some of the very same parents who will carefully protect little Junior and Junioress from every scrape and bump early on, who will trail them carefully to super-safe playgrounds and rarely leave them to play unattended even in their own back yards, will then abandon their children to real dangers, including sexual dangers, later on.”

    I note that Ms. Hart states her intention to “one day” chaperone every one of her four childrens’ dances, which indicates to me that they’re pretty young. By the time they’re old enough for dances, she’ll likely be as tired as the rest of us mothers of teens. Then she’ll understand that hypervigilant parents like her “abandon” their children to the evils of school dances because they’re too exhausted to do otherwise.

  2. Moderate Libby says:

    Kids have had sex from the beginning of time. It would be wise for Ms. Hart to wrap her head around that and instead of alienating her children, try to guide them into an understanding of their bodies, their emotions and the responsibilities involved in emotional and sexual relationships.

    If this woman does follow through with her intentions, she will likely push her children right into the behavior that she wants to avoid.

    Yes, she will be one tired woman by the time the kids are in their teens.

    God bless them all.

  3. Songbird says:

    Well, I’m amused.

  4. Del says:

    Asked DD15 about this. She curled her lip with scorn. “You mean, like what they do at homecoming? Why do you think I don’t dance?”

    Score one for the liberal mom who wants her children to like her!

    OTOH I paid $86 for the damned dress.

    I couldn’t believe this was as bad as they say, so I googled, and it pretty much is, y’all. Somewhere it was described as “pole dancing, without the pole.” One school on the West Coast has rules like “no ankle grabbing” “no bending greater than a 45 degree angle” and “skirts must be fingertip length.” See, the skirts are real short, and then the girls lean over and grab their ankles, and then… No wonder the boys wear those baggy pants.

    (For those of you about to make a remark, the spokesperson laughingly admitted that chaperones aren’t roaming the dance floor with protractors.)

    Here’s another story about Argyle, Texas. The poor sod is trying really hard. He backed down on the strapless dresses rule (the $86 dress was strapless, but the poor child is flat-chested like her ma) and he’s called in dance instructors to demonstrate other kinds of dancing since the kids say that grinding is “all they know how to do.” Imagine! a gym full of attractively dressed young people, dancing the lindy, the charleston, or even the waltz! They’ll be having so much fun, they’ll forget to go out in the parking lot to drink and screw!

    Nah, it’ll never happen :)

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