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The world is a scary place these days, scarier still for kids and their parents.

I’ve found myself more and more often adopting a “disgruntled grandpa” persona whilst watching the news. I stop short of actually saying “Back in my day…”, but saying “Y’know, when we were in school…” is the same thing, and my friends and I have started doing that. A lot.

When we were in school, we still considered ourselves little kids at Zia. We waited till we got to junior high to learn how to fend off peer pressure and hormones, as well as how to avoid being knocked over during the daily fistfight in the halls.

I know things of a questionable nature went on when I was in high school, but it’s nothing compared to what happens now. I can’t imagine having to navigate some of the situations I’ve seen PLUS the added horrors of social media, which only makes every unfortunate circumstance worse.

That doesn’t mean we didn’t have issues to deal with. And it’s funny sometimes how people tend to forget the past. The Artesia Public Schools dress code has been the subject of hot debate in recent days, which frankly, looks exactly like the dress code that was in place when I was in school. And similar to the one that was probably in place in the ‘60s and ‘70s, when it was skirt length vs. the world.

On that front, I have to chuckle when I think that rather than testing how much skin we could show, many of us were preoccupied with draping ourselves in even more layers of fabric than our bodies could accommodate in high school. A toast to you, JNCO jeans. I regret nothing. You were so comfortable.

But if the mine field of modern-day growing up has you down, there’s still one lovely little nibble of nostalgia that has stood the test of time: Prom.

Next week, Artesia High School students will gussy up, actually use a few of those manners you don’t think they have, and hit the dance floor – just like you did when you were their age. Just like I and my friends did.

And on that front, I’d like to say to any kids who may be on the fence about attending: Just do it. It might seem a bit silly, dances may not be your thing, and if you also hate formalwear, I fully sympathize on all fronts. But it’s one of those innocent little high-school occurrences you’ll look back on and smile about one day.

I didn’t want to go, either. But my friends convinced me it was a memory moment. One of my dear friends was my date, but dates are not a prerequisite; he was also my friend, and unless you’re in a high-school relationship and bound by whatever unspoken decrees that entails, going with friends is the only way to go. I assure you no one is going to care if you make your entrance in the company of your squad.

Plus, you guys have it made. Great decorations, amazing food, plenty of places to relax if you don’t feel like dancing the whole time. Our Prom – like many others before it – was held in the AHS commons area, and after our dates helped haul those of us wearing formal shoes up and over a giant, white bridge like rock climbers on a cliff face, we arrived in a big, plastic-covered black hole with no noticeable decorations and a schmuck of a DJ who played “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It” no less than 488 times.

We couldn’t find chairs, the punch (which was all there was in the way of refreshment) tasted like battery acid, and all the pictures taken that evening were lost.

But now that I’m done taking out my frustrations on the junior class for producing such a lame-o Prom, none of those things were the highlight of the evening. We were all together in one place for one night – feuds and cliques and ill feelings put aside – and we all just goofed around like kids. Like we did when we were younger and none of that stuff mattered.

We laughed at the punch and the heinous music, we admired how well we all cleaned up, and when it was over, some of my best friends and I went over to the home of some of my parents’ best friends for a late-night breakfast, photo-fest, and dork-out session. And we did not need to be inebriated to enjoy one another’s company, either (hint, hint).

Have fun at Prom, Bulldogs, and try not to cry too much, moms. For the seniors among you, the next – and last – time you’ll all get together sans stigmas will be at graduation, and that one’s actually a little sad. So enjoy the party, stay safe, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

And back up your photos when you’re done.

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