At church our youth group (ages 12 to 18) is involved in a month-long series of seminars called “cotillion”, which is apparently from the French and refers to a formal ball. Cotillion is about manners, etiquette, chivalry, conversation, formal dinners, and dancing. The intention, of course, is to teach the teenage boys how to treat a lady, and the teenage girls how to be graceful. I find it to be an interesting concept, and although I’m completely refined and polite these days, there was certainly a time in my younger years when that wasn’t the case.
Alex and Kyra went through it a few years ago, and neither of them can attend this round because Alex has martial arts and Kyra has tennis practice. They’re not exactly heartbroken about it. Zack, who had no other activities to use as an excuse not to attend, was not excited about it at all. So, in general, amongst the teen group there’s an attitude of grumpiness and resignation about cotillion, but as youth leaders we kept telling them “it’ll be more fun than you think”.
At some point the week before the first session, Zack really wanted something. I don’t remember what it was– maybe it was a snack, or for someone to take care of a chore for him, or to play some extra video game time– but I told him he could have it if he promised not to complain about cotillion for the next five weeks. He agreed. I’ve learned with him that it’s usually best to get it in writing, though, so I put together a little legal contract on a sticky note:
It’s stuck to our refrigerator to remind him weekly that he can’t complain when it’s time to head over to the church for the weekly two-hour session. Interestingly, after the first one, Zack came home with a new attitude. He admitted that it was, in fact, more fun than he thought it would be. Even more surprising, he mentioned that during the dance portion (they were learning the foxtrot that day) he danced with a very nice young lady. Wow. So after that first week, it’s been a lot easier getting him out the door.
Next week I’m teaching one of the seminars. My topic: personal hygiene for the older teenage boys. Yeah, that sounds pretty… exciting, doesn’t it? So for the past couple of weeks I’ve been thinking about how to teach boys the things they should do to attract the attention of the young ladies (in a good way). I came up with a few examples and thought I’d illustrate the point with some photos.
First, don’t have messy hair. I took a picture of myself right after getting out of bed, although unfortunately my hair wasn’t as amazingly bad as it is on some days.
Be sure to clean your ears. Alex used to have a “wax problem” where he’d go for weeks without applying a Q-tip, and after enough time there would literally be thick brown wax oozing out of his ears. Bleah. (Yes, he’s better now.)
If you nick yourself shaving, use a little dab of tissue to staunch the blood, but don’t forget to remove it before you head out the door. Yeah, I’ve done that.
Brush often, and make sure you don’t have food in your teeth.
And finally, my favorite, avoid the dreaded “bat in the cave”. The kids and I use that to indicate that someone has a nice booger visible in their nose. For some reason, when you’re talking to someone with a bat in the cave, you can’t help but stare. It’s like a train wreck in slow motion or something.
There are some other things I’ll be teaching, including appropriate levels of deodorant, maintaining fresh breath, and yes, even taking showers daily. Hopefully it’ll not only be entertaining, but will help one of these boys enjoy a dance with his dream date.