Due to the ongoing global health and financial crisis, mass gatherings have been cancelled to discourage the spread of coronavirus. Family celebrations, concerts, religious gatherings, and other mass events, including graduations, were universally canceled. Proms were not exempt, but one 7-year-old found a way to celebrate the milestone with a babysitter who missed her prom due to COVID-19.
Rachel Chapman, 17 years old, is a babysitter for Curtis Rogers. When her prom didn’t push through because of the pandemic, Curtis decided to cheer her up with her a personal dinner and dance. Rachel said of the touching gesture, “I was so surprised. I had no idea he was going to go all out. It was very thoughtful and sweet.”
Rachel is a senior at Sanderson High School in Raleigh, North Carolina, and has been working on the side as a babysitter. She has been watching Curtis part-time for over a year. After picking him up from school, Rachel brings the young boy to the playground, takes him to piano lessons, and helps with his homework.
According to Curtis’ mom Elissa Rogers, Rachel is more than a babysitter. “She has become a part of our family … he absolutely adores her,” Elissa said. “She’s a just great person with good heart so it’s been a blessing to have her helping us out with Curtis.”
When the coronavirus pandemic hit, all senior events for Rachel and her classmates came to a halt. Rachel was understandably upset. She also had to cancel babysitting duties for Curtis for two months. Elissa explained the situation to Curtis, and added that Rachel also missed prom due to the crisis. “When we told him that she wasn’t getting a prom, he’s like, ‘Well, we could do a mini prom,’” Elissa said.
Together, mother and son prepared the prom for Rachel in their backyard. Curtis started by creating a sign for the promposal. They then worked on a three-course menu, picked out the table decorations, and made the perfect playlist.
On the night of the prom, Curtis was snappily dressed in a blue checkered suit, and Rachel came dressed in a flowing pink dress. His bow-tie even matched her outfit! Curtis then treated his friend and babysitter to food the two normally enjoyed together.
The menu consisted of an appetizer of peanut butter and apples, a main course of Chick-fil-A, and smoothies for dessert. The mini-prom was conducted with safety protocols in mind, with a pool noodle to ensure social distancing. Curtis made a sweet toast to Rachel in the beginning, and they had a fun little dance to cap the day.
“First he was waiting outside when we got there with the pool noodle and then he led me into the backyard,” Rachel explained. “He had all my favorite foods and everything. I could tell he put a lot of thought into it.”
Elissa shared, “He was very excited and wanted to make sure everything was just right and get his suit on and pick out his bowtie that matched her dress. It was really cute. He was really excited for it to start and make sure he was ready to impress her.”
Curtis invitation to “prom” definitely lifted Rachel’s spirits, though she was a little sad after putting on the dress that she was supposed to wear to the actual event.
She said, “I was kind of like bummed putting my dress on because I was sad; I don’t get to wear it to my senior prom. After leaving it and having that time with him because it was the first time I had seen him in two months, it was like, really fun, and I’m really glad that he did that.”
Becky Chapman, Rachel’s mom, added, “It was a sweet thing for him to do. They have a special relationship.” Certainly, the private prom was a special way to celebrate the extraordinary friendship between Curtis and a beloved babysitter. The young boy said he was motivated to throw the prom because Rachel is “the best nanny ever.”
“I planned it out because Rachel probably just wanted to see me a lot and she also is one of the best people I’ve known,” he added. Elissa stressed, “They’re awesome together, so they have tons of fun and um, yeah, she’s like really become a special part of our family. So, we love her. She’s awesome.”
In the fall, Rachel will attend East Carolina University to study public health.