OK, I agree, a 19 year-old senior and a 13 year-old freshman, no. But a flat ban? Not consistent with my experience.
- I went to my senior prom (which was not such a big deal) with my best friend's 15 year-old freshman sister. I wasn't 18 yet. I liked her and we always had a nice relationship (and still do, by the way, 44 years later). We both more or less worshiped her brother. I was a relative late-bloomer and she . . . wasn't. The girl I really wanted to take was going with her college boyfriend, and the other girl I sort of wanted to take from another school was ambivalent and said no. The friend's sister was very popular, deservedly so -- pretty, comfortable, and fun to be around. We had a good time. Nothing horrible happened, except that if I had been a little nicer and more mature I would have taken one of my dateless classmates.
- A 19 year-old senior asked my son, a 16 year-old sophomore, to be her date for her senior prom. They were independently friends from the school's Academic Olympic team, of which she was the outgoing captain and my son her successor. She was an intense, hypercompetitive, hyperambitious woman on her way to Harvard who frankly scared the pants off of 99% of the boys she came into contact with. But not my son, who thanks to his mother and sister thought that was pretty much what women should be like. He was probably the only boy at the school who ever flirted with her. She obviously enjoyed being with him, and they would banter quite happily. While she was an academic superstar at the school, he had his own status as the top scorer on the AO team and lead in the school play that spring, as well as being a very good student.
There wasn’t any big emotional element. He knew – heck, everyone knew – that she had an enormous, completely unreciprocated crush on her class president/valedictorian/biggest rival, a charismatic closeted gay man who was also headed to Harvard. My son understood that his role as her date was to make sure she had a good time and felt appreciated, and he knew how to do that. He admired a lot of her friends, who tended to be the serious science crowd, and was pleased to get to hang out with them at dinner, etc.
Not only did the evening go fine for them, my son reaped benefits from it for the rest of his high school career. His date was Albanian, and thanks to her academic success was more or less Queen of the Albanian girl contingent at the school. Thanks to her public endorsement of him, my son remained an object of desire for Albanian girls long after she had gone, something he enjoyed a lot.