I knew it was inevitable, this dating thing.
After all, The Tortoise is smart, funny and beautiful. She is genuine and honest. Above all else, she knows how she wants to be treated too, which is much more mature than I was at nearly fourteen. (Perhaps even more mature than I was for most of my 20’s.) The only real restriction we’ve put on her future dating is no boys that have a driver’s license until she has a driver’s license. That seemed pretty safe, right? That sort of eliminates her asking to date a Senior when she is a Freshman next year. What I didn’t count on was her wanting to “date” in 8th grade.
Boys have always been welcome at our house. At times, I even think they make better friends than girls do at this age. They don’t get jealous of other girls spending time with you, they’ll never try to date the boys you like or ask to borrow your clothes and they won’t get PMS. It’s never been weird for her to have male friends, so I was taken totally off guard when one day The Tortoise came home beaming in a dream like state.
“Mom,” she swooned, “The boy I like finally asked me out.”
“Really?” I asked trying not to let my voice waver, and nervously wracking my brain for a clue as to which boy she was talking about. “Where are you going?”
“Going?” she asked dumbfounded,” We’re not going anywhere. We’re just going out.”
I aged ten years in one breath.
“So…” I stammered, “you aren’t physically going anywhere specific but you are dating?”
“Yep,” she said, visibly relieved that I understood. ” He asked me to be his girlfriend and I said yes.”
There seems to be something fundamentally wrong with being a couple before you actually go anywhere with them. It’s almost as ludicrous as getting married before you ever court or date. How do you even know if you want to be that person’s significant other before spending any amount of time with them greater than passing in the hallway? But I listened and tried not to appear too alarmed. I certainly didn’t want to close any avenues of communication between me and my love struck teenager. When I asked her what he was like, I was even more surprised. She listed off a multitude of wonderful qualities and not one thing about physical appearance, although she did admit she found him quite cute.
“He’s smart, funny, a good listener, talks to me like I matter and doesn’t gossip or say mean things about people,” she raved, “but most of all, I like that he doesn’t act like he’s better than me. We are equal.”
Is it possible that in spite of my years of chasing after the popular, arrogant “bad boys” I had to constantly prove myself too that my daughter has gotten it right straight out of the gate? I couldn’t have been prouder.
When I told DW about this new situation, I couldn’t help but belly ache about how 13 was just too young to date. He only laughed.
“Seriously, Em,” he chuckled, “Neither of them drive and they don’t live within walking distance of each other.”
“True,” I pouted.
“Besides, what’s the most that could happen at school? A little hand holding? A stolen kiss by the lockers?”
He was right. I was just being a little bit paranoid, and desperately trying to hold on to the little girl who wasn’t there anymore. Her head was in the right place. In fact, a few other boys had asked her out before, but she had turned them all down.
“But he was so cute!” her friends would say stunned by her decision.
“Yeah, but he doesn’t treat me very well,” she would reply.
She seems to be attracted to the qualities that matter the most, a person’s character.
Besides, DW was right about something else.
It didn’t last very long.