Moms, I wanted to talk to you about Cotillion class since I remember it being around this time of year, or maybe even early winter, when I registered my kids for their cotillion classes. Just putting the idea in your heads for you to keep watching for the upcoming new year class offerings.
Yes, all three of my boys attended cotillion class. And I thought it would take a herd of elephants to drag them in, but really it just took me. The first class was a little iffy – I take that back – the drive to the first class was a little iffy, but once they were in and participating, they were perfect cotillion gentlemen.
Now, in full honesty, I would love to tell you that my kids have the greatest social skills and manners…in other words, that they don’t let the door hit me in the face when I walk through, and that they retrieve refreshments for me at parties. They still do the door thing, and given an opportunistic party situation, I’m doubting I would ever get a cup of punch.
They learned all those things at cotillion, and all in all, it was a good thing for them all. Here’s how it went for us.
First of all, we learned that many schools participate in cotillion classes as a group event to be attended at a certain point – maybe upon finishing elementary school. It is not a required part of the curriculum, but an over and above for the families that want a little more of the social graces taught before that first middle school dance shows up.
Our school didn’t do this as a group, but we went to church with so many kids that were doing it, it just became one of those expected sixth grade things. So and so is taking cotillion, so should you. So they did.
And not an advertisement, but we used The Chaplin Cotillions. There may be others, but looking on their website, it looks like they have Texas pretty well saturated in manners.
The course meets one day per week for about six weeks, think short classes, maybe 90 minutes from start to finish, and each week has a theme and a goal. For example, a regular meeting week would have the boys wearing coat and tie, and the young ladies wearing party or church dresses with appropriate shoes and leg wear. Meaning no leggings, y’all. Luckily I don’t have girls, so I just had to force my kids into a necktie and drop them off. Sounds easy, but wrangling sixth grade boys into a tie and dress shoes can be harder than you think.
Other weeks had dress up themes, like 50’s day, western day, and with those there was usually a party. One day the boys learned all about asking their companion if she would like refreshments, then practiced serving her before themselves. Which I totally love but can say in all honesty that my boys would still knock me out of the way to get at a plate of cookies if the need arose.
And yes, they dance. They ballroom dance. Think waltz, swing and I think the Fox trot. They dance with their partners and they rotate partners so everyone has a chance to learn how to make polite small talk in an up-close and personal situation.
The course ends after a matter of weeks and there is always a parent night. Girls will show their dance skills to their dad or other male that attends; the boys will dance with their mom or other lucky lady. First, the kids showed us their dances as parents watched, then we were invited to join them on the dance floor and let our pride explode into smiling faces of joy. To be honest, I only got to do the mom dance one time out of three boys. Kid 2 was running a fever the night of his event, and Kid 3, I don’t really remember. Maybe he hid or ran away from home for a time, but we didn’t make it to the party. And I think he has never been prouder of a duck and cover maneuver.
And yes, I promise you that each of my boys were horrified at the thought of ballroom dancing and escorting never before seen 12 year old girls into a pretend party. But I promise that each of them, after their first class meeting, came out of Cotillion class ready to go back for the second. The instructors were great, patient, and all knowing how to get young people to find their inner-happy in a situation that was probably not their first choice. I loved how the instructor moved around the dance floor giving suggestions, such as, “Now would be a nice time to ask your date about their day/their family/ their hobbies,” or, “Now would be a nice time to ask your date if she would like refreshments.”
For the record, I am big on manners and my boys have been taught and told about holding doors, saying thank you, please and yes ma’am/yes sir. I believe in it. I practice it, and I expect it of my kids. But past a certain age, expecting and receiving are on separate planets, and having an impartial instructor along with other kids of the same age reinforce those same social graces made my kids consider the idea that maybe I wasn’t crazy.
I can say that I saw an immediate difference in all of my boys after each class. Did it last? Do they practice those graces at home all the time? No, they don’t. But word on the street is that the Walters boys are gentlemen when it counts, and that’s when I’m not there making them do it.