Home » on teenagers and the “dance phase”

on teenagers and the “dance phase”

by Shawni
I was nervous to have teenagers. 

All I ever wanted were those cute little newborns and toddlers.  All the stars in my eyes about motherhood centered around that.  (more about that here)

I never envisioned my own children towering over me.

Most of the time I spent daydreaming of holding a sweet, perfectly behaved and smiling toddler on my hip I think I was a teenager.  So it’s only natural that I didn’t look longingly at other teenagers and dream of having my own.

But here I am with almost three of them. 

And circles of their friends who frequent our house.  Eating. Laughing. Talking about funny things. 

And guess what?

I adore teenagers. 

The other night a few of Max’s friends were here and as I prepared something in the kitchen I loved listening as they were picking Dave’s brain about China and how it really is over there (so different from the China they learned about in school).  Dave moved over from the kitchen into the family room to get some work done on the computer.  They followed him right over there and kept the questions coming.  Something about their curiosity and respect just filled my heart right up.

I love how all these kids who are friends with my kids are so nice to our little girls.  I love that Claire will run up and give them all big hugs when they come over.  I love that Grace’s friends who were helping her babysit the other night, included Lucy in “The Flour Game” and the look of delight on her face when she told me about it the next day.

Right now we are going into a new stage with teenagers:

It is what I call “The Dance Phase.”

Our kids wait until they are 16 to date, so Homecoming this year is the first dance Max is eligible to go to.  It’s coming up this Saturday.  I loved watching him figure out how to “ask” his date…with the help of his friends and mostly Elle (fresh from tennis).
2013-09-23 new house 875962013-09-23 new house 87597

As they were getting things ready, the doorbell rang and the little girls scrambled to get there first and found this:2013-09-23 new house 87598…from a girl who was asking Max to Winter Formal (which is girls’ choice) at a neighboring high school.  (They aren’t doing Winter Formal at our school for some reason this year.)

Max was then the proud owner of a few new fish (only one of them is still alive as we speak…we named it “survivor.”)2013-09-23 new house 87602
Elle did such a good job on Max’s poster that his friend sweet-talked her into doing his too:2013-09-23 new house 87600
She made the boys put on the finishing touches.2013-09-23 new house 876032013-09-23 new house 87604
And then they were off to “ask” to the big dance.  2013-09-23 new house 87605
(That piñata was filled with candy and a few of the pieces had letters to Max’s name written on them…his date had to unscramble it except that she caught him there so I’m sure she didn’t really unscramble anything.  Max’s friend gave his date a bunch of fortune cookies with his poster, and on some of the fortunes he put the letters of his name to unscramble.)

These boys already had their “day date” last week.  Do they do that in other parts of the country?  They have a whole day a week or two before the dance where they take their dates on some great adventure.

Here he is heading off to pick up his date:  2013-10-18 fall 90605He begged me to take that picture because he loves pictures soooooo much 🙂


Yes, we are onto a new phase of life here in the desert.

And so far I think it’s pretty grand. 


Kraftie Katie October 30, 2013 - 1:52 pm

I couldn't date until I was 16 either! At the time I didn't like it and thought I was the only person on Earth with that rule! But now I am so grateful that my parents made that rule for me! Now I have been with my highschool boyfriend for almost 5 years 🙂 Thanks for a great post! (p.s. I also feel like I'm the only person on Earth who can NOT wait to be a mom! I'm glad to know you always felt that way too!)

Anonymous October 30, 2013 - 2:30 pm

Ahh, i remember those days. Is that your family rule that you dont date till 16, or is it mormon or school thing because my school always had dances and you could go when you were a freshman, so at 14.

jsurry October 30, 2013 - 2:57 pm

The "Mormon" Church encourages parents and kids to wait until they are 16 to date. You are older and more mature than you would be at a younger age, obviously. It's not a "rule" more like a guideline. It's a good thing and I see a lot of value in it. My parents went a step further, they also encouraged group dating and not paring off until you are at an age that you can actually get married, i.e. out of High School and into college, or after your mission. I think I will do that too with my children. Shawni, yes up here in Utah, they do the whole day date thing too. But they actually do it on the same day as the dance and start early in the morning. I think it's a bit overkill, but whatever. As long as it doesn't get too expensive and time consuming, I suppose it's all in good fun. Way creative ways to ask and answer, I love teenagers too!

Lauren October 30, 2013 - 3:09 pm

I am LDS and grew up in the Bay Area (with 5 other LDS students in my high school) and we would get asked to a dance casually over the phone or in person at school, and we would just say "yes" or "no" on the spot. We went to dinner before the dance and usually there was an after-party. Then I went to BYU for college and found out about the fun/creative ways of asking to dances and day dates. So in my experience it seems to be a popular practice in areas of the country with large LDS populations. It sounds like your kids have been blessed with some really great friends!

The Jessee Journal October 30, 2013 - 3:13 pm

This actually made me excited to have teenagers 🙂 I tend to look to the future (mine are 8,6,4 and 1) with anxiety — so many things to warn them about, keep them safe from and all those huge decisions I'm going to have to let them make for themselves! Scary! haha 🙂 This looks fun though, maybe it won't be so stressful after all (HA)

kms October 30, 2013 - 4:29 pm

Not Mormon but I had the 16 year old rule for dating. And my school had dances. You just didn't go as couples at younger ages. The 16 year old rule was set by my parents because you were old enough to handle yourself better, able to drive a car, old enough to get the not getting the car with a date who had been drinking thing. A few younger girls went to the dances at the all boys school across the street but they were usually arranged though a friend of a friend or were just friends of the girls. Going to a dance isn't necessarily a relationship or a formal date.

Kelly October 30, 2013 - 5:34 pm

Oh this took me to my dance days! I loved it. It seems not that long ago, but is more than 10 years past now 🙂

Sheila October 30, 2013 - 5:49 pm

I'm LDS but live in a largely non-LDS area (which I am grateful for, for my kids' sake–though the gospel IS strong here and we are very blessed). I've never heard of the "day date", and asking girls/guys out in this creative way is pretty much only done in large LDS populations I'm pretty sure. It's not done here in Alaska anyway. I love reading your blog–since I have never lived in a predominantly LDS area, and it's interesting to see how life is so different there from where I live. From the date ideas, to the fact that there is no boys volleyball here at all, and the difficult weather and rugged lifestyle that we love. You should try it sometime! 🙂

Lynn October 30, 2013 - 6:06 pm

I am from Canada. We don't do the "homecoming dance" thing or anything similar. However, we sure have fun hearing about my nieces and nephews experiences with this sort of thing. They live in Utah.

Janan October 30, 2013 - 7:57 pm

I grew up in Utah and did the creative asking & answering thing with a day date the morning of the evening dance. Now because of where we live, due to being in the military my kids get no part of that. It makes me sad! The school dances are out, my highschoolers say only the "bad" kids really go. We have lots of stake dances, but that's different from a date dance. Ah-well.

Sarah October 30, 2013 - 8:25 pm

I love the creative ways to ask people to prom. This must be an out west thing, because I've heard of people in Utah and other places doing it to, but have lived in Chicago and the deep south and never heard of such a thing.

Rachelle October 30, 2013 - 8:48 pm

I am SO glad to hear you're enjoying this stage!! YAHOO, that will help me sleep at night as I'm just entering it! 🙂 I laughed out loud at the name "survivor", those dumb fish struggle.

Emily Jane October 30, 2013 - 11:09 pm

Here in Texas we have mums and garters that couples make for each other and wear. The mum is originally a flower around a girls neck but it has become a huge collage of ribbons, teddy bears, bells, streamers, and such! Searching a picture of "homecoming mums" will give you an idea of how outrageous some of these are! The garter, much smaller, is worn around the boys arm. There is also a date before, but not all day.

cheryl cardall October 30, 2013 - 11:10 pm

So fun!! I loved high school dances growing up in SLC.

Leti October 31, 2013 - 12:30 am

This is superrr cuteee!!
You have like the best children in the world!

At my high school no guys really ask anyone to homecoming unless they're already boyfriend/girlfriend.

xnikkix October 31, 2013 - 5:18 am

Hi Shawni,

Thank you so much for sharing your family life and parenting philosophies. I am a SAHM to two little girls, almost 3 yo and 20 weeks and I would love more than anything to be a good mom to them. I am learning so much from you and your family. The best thing that I really appreciate about you is your positive outlook on life. I had a lot more things that I wanted to express in gratitude but now that I am actually typing a comment, none are coming through. I guess I'll just end it with a simple "thank you"! I love your blog so much and it is the only blog that I make time to read daily!

xnikkix October 31, 2013 - 5:19 am

Hi Shawni,

Thank you so much for sharing your family life and parenting philosophies. I am a SAHM to two little girls, almost 3 yo and 20 weeks and I would love more than anything to be a good mom to them. I am learning so much from you and your family. The best thing that I really appreciate about you is your positive outlook on life. I had a lot more things that I wanted to express in gratitude but now that I am actually typing a comment, none are coming through. I guess I'll just end it with a simple "thank you"! I love your blog so much and it is the only blog that I make time to read daily!

Sylvie October 31, 2013 - 1:39 pm

That all sounds so nice compared to how I was asked to my first homecoming dance – passed a boy on the stairs during class switch, and he tapped my shoulder and said "Homecoming?" Such sweet memories!! Oh well, we still had fun!

Eyrealm November 1, 2013 - 3:38 am

So happy that you have arrived! I LOVED having teenagers!

The Atomic Mom November 3, 2013 - 5:08 am

To answer your question, the whole production of asking out, and the concept of a day date is a very Idaho/Utah/Arizona thing. I grew up in Mesa, in fact, I went to high school with your husband and his sister Carolyn, at Mt View, and the whole "big" production of asking someone out for a dance was very big. I live and teach in New Mexico now, and kids just ask each other out face to face, or over the phone and then they just to to the dance. I like it better that way really, less pressure. Homecoming is also not a date dance here, which I love. It allows all the kids to come, not just those with dates. I remember sitting in church the next day being the only kid in Sunday School that had not been asked out to the dances, and pretty much hating my life. I hope Max continues to ask some one for the dances when ever he can. The girls will appreciate it.

SHILLIG4FAMILY November 14, 2013 - 2:36 am

I would love to share my husband's resume with your husband's company. He will graduate from law school in May and spent the summer in China for law school. He is fluent in Mandarin as well. Feel free to email me if this is possible.


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