Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Young Love

Last winter my friend told me her middle-school-aged son had a girlfriend. And I judged her.

Never mind that the topic only came up because my own daughter wanted to ask her son to dance at cotillion. But all I could think was he's in the seventh grade! That is too young. What kind of mother lets that happen.

But, oh...people in glass houses and all that.

About a month later in the Spring my daughter came home from play practice and told us that one of her best friends was "going out" with one of the boys from the theater group. Now, since this best friend also happens to be the daughter of one of the school heads (who didn't even let his daughter go to cotillion) my husband and I both asked the same question.

"What do her parents say about that?"

Well, as it turns out, after the boy asked her to "go out" she asked her parents permission. (Smart kid.) And her parents quite reasonably asked her what it meant to be "going out" with someone.

Apparently "going out" in my daughter's sixth grade universe meant...well...pretty much absolutely nothing. They don't actually see each other or hang out together or do anything different at all. I guess knowing that they'll all be graduating high school together in a few years they are just staking their claims now. I don't know.

So, yes we had heard that a certain boy (I wish I could use his real name because it is oh so perfect, but I must protect the innocent and all that)...(let's call him...Neal, shall we?) had told my daughter he was "into her" a few months before. But we hadn't heard much about it since then.

Neal, did however have my son's seal of approval of not being a bad kid. So that was good.

But not long after her friend started "going out" with her costar, Neal asked my daughter to "go out" too.

So my daughter asked our permission. (Smart girl.) And my husband (surprisingly reasonably) asked, "What does he mean by "go out" with you?" And of course it means, well, nothing.

And now my daughter is going out with a boy.

My daughter who just a couple of weeks ago turned 12-years-old and still has to be reminded to wash her hair has a boyfriend.

My glass house is shattered!

For years our friends and families and I have been joking about how intimidating my husband will be to any boy crazy enough to try to date my daughter. I mean, he knows what boys are like. I was 15 when he started dating me! And he's afraid that she'll turn out like me. (It's a very valid fear for a dad, believe me. I spent so much time trying to get my 16-year-old future husband in bed. Or to give it up in the car or wherever! Unsuccessfully, I might add. At least for a few years.)

But I was actually genuinely worried about how he would take her teen years. He's a very stubborn guy. And more than a little intimidating. Plus, his first meeting with his own future-father-in-law involved a gun, so...

I was worried.

But he has totally rolled with it. He's asked her a few times, "So, was Neal there?" or "So, did you tell Neal any of this?" and things like that. But mostly he has been totally fine with it.

I'm the freak.

I had to know more about this kid, so I broke out the kids' yearbook. Honestly, I was expecting kind of a geeky theater kid (sorry, guys!) like her best bud's boyfriend. But he was actually pretty cute and non-geeky.

So, I went on the school website and found out that he has two older twin brothers who just graduated from our school.

And now I know where he got his gutsy, sixth-grade manly man ways. (Can you imagine the conversations he had with his brothers?)

But his last name, and his dad's name seemed really familiar to me. (Never mind that his last name is as alphabetically as close to our last name as you can get and Neal and my daughter will have adjoining lockers for the next six years!)

So, Google, here I come.

It turns out that I had seen his dad's name on a wall in an art gallery. When he had his own show. As it turns out, his dad is kind of a famous sculptor. And he has got mon-ney! Serious money. Plus, he's the director of a very big charity in town.

Yes, I am completely nuts. I Google searched my daughter's sixth grade boyfriend.

But Neal was starting to look like a better and better candidate as a future son-in-law. Plus his dad has aged very very well, so there was that for my daughter to look forward to.

(See, completely nutso!)

A couple of weeks later I went to school to have lunch with my son. I was curious to watch my daughter in her native habitat interacting with her boyfriend. My son pointed out the pre-teen Lothario to me.

And I saw what was possibly the funniest thing I have ever seen in my life.

At one point during lunch, my daughter was on one side of the deli line all by herself. And Neal was on the other side. Neal kept staring at her. And flipping his hair back at her. And trying to get her attention without actually saying anything to her.

And she completely ignored him

And now I know why Neal is interested in my daughter.

Guys love that chase, right!

My son and I thought that it was hilarious, but poor Neal. When I asked my daughter about it she had no clue what I was talking about. She hadn't even noticed him there making eyes at her.

But poor Neal did get to play the Gypsy King to her Gypsy Queen in the play. And they got to sing together and hold hands. (Eeeeeeek!)

Other than that I have no idea what they have done while they have been "going out".

Though she did write to me from summer camp and ask me for Neal's address. That is a letter I would have loved to have read. I wonder what his parents thought of it. Did he ask their permission to go out with a girl? I doubt it. Of course they also have eighteen-year-old twin football players, so they are probably used to a lot.

When she got back from camp I asked her about the dance they had with the neighboring boys camp. She didn't enjoy it. "Too many random boys asked me to dance," she complained.

"Did you dance with any of them?" I asked her.

"Of course not," she replied.

But I couldn't imagine why not. So, I asked her, "Why not?"

"Because of Neal!" she told me, like I really should have known that already.

And right there and then I knew that my husband has nothing to worry about. She is nothing like me.

I would have danced with every single one of those boys who asked me. Cute or not. No twelve-year-old playboy would keep me from having fun. In fact, I would have asked a few boys to dance with me.

So, we'll see how long Neal lasts. No matter what, I hope it ends well. Because the lockers could get quite awkward for the next six years if it doesn't.

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