My daughter Kyla just turned 13 in March. Apparently, she’s had a boyfriend since October. Although I met him at her birthday party in April, I did not know they had been “dating” for 6 months. Yes, they say they’ve been “dating” for 6 months. I remember when I was that age and everyone was “going out” with whomever, even though they actually never went anywhere together. At least “going steady” hasn’t made a comeback, right?
I won’t get into the teenage girl drama that led to her blurting out “I have a boyfriend” in the car a few weeks ago, but she finally told me. Needless to say, I was pretty shocked. I guess I knew this day would come, but I thought she’d be older, like at least 14 or 15 or even 16, hopefully 18 or maybe even 21 before this would happen. Nope, at 13, she told me she has a boyfriend.
Of course my initial reaction was “OH HELL NO YOU DON’T!” but I didn’t say that. Instead, I asked her to tell me about him. I asked if he’s nice to her. I asked what she likes about him. I asked if they’ve kissed. I asked if they’ve done anything else beyond that. Thank the baby Jesus they have not… at least that’s what she told me.
I asked her why she hadn’t told me sooner and she said she was afraid to. She was scared that I would tell her she’s not allowed to “date” him. She was afraid her dad would be angry. She was afraid Rick (my husband, her stepdad) would be mad. She was afraid we would tease her.
I remember being teased about this kind of stuff when I was her age. It made me not want to tell anyone anything about my feelings. I want my relationship with her to be different. I want her to trust me and know that she can tell me anything and she won’t be ridiculed. I think we all want that, we all feel like our kids should be able to tell us anything, but moments like these can make or break that trust.
I think she was surprised that my reaction wasn’t anger but acceptance and an eagerness to know about him and how she feels. Believe me, I wish I could stop this… None of us want our little girls to grow up. We don’t want to think about them kissing boys or getting busy (I can’t bring myself to say the “s” word right now) or having their hearts broken, but it’s inevitable. It’s going to happen, and the best thing I can do is make sure my daughter knows she can talk to me about all of it, even if it’s hard.
I must have done a pretty good job conveying that message in the 10 minute conversation we had in the driveway at nearly midnight that night because she then suggested we go out to dinner with him. Just the two of them and me.
I thought… OK now she wants me to take them on a date? What will her dad say? What will my husband think? Is taking a 13 year old out on a date with her boyfriend appropriate? Are they too young? Is this crazy?
But then I thought… There is nothing I can do to stop them from liking each other. They are going to be boyfriend and girlfriend whether I want them to or not. I can set boundaries like not allowing her to go over to his house to hang out in his bedroom, and I can talk to her about the birds and the bees and my expectations, but this young man is going to be in her life for the time being whether I want him to be or not… So I should get to know him.
I wondered if he’d go for the idea, I thought he might say no for one reason or the other, but once she asked him about it she said he was excited. Things have been pretty busy lately but after 3 weeks of talking about going we finally made plans for Friday night. I let them choose the restaurant, she asked for The Cheesecake Factory.
We picked him up at his house and I met his mom and grandmother. His mom works at the school and has known about their relationship pretty much since the beginning. She has 2 older kids, he’s the youngest, so she’s been there done that with the teenage romance thing. Me, not so much.
At first it was a little awkward… Kyla was nervous and bonked her head as she was getting in the car after we picked him up. She was giddy. He didn’t talk much at first, so I was trying to make conversation without making him feel like I was asking too many questions.
I cracked up when they both ordered macaroni and cheese… Not just because I was reminded that even though I’m taking them out on a “date” they’re still just kids, but because they really wanted to go to The Cheesecake Factory, a place that has a 20 page menu, and they just ordered plain old mac and cheese. The waitress let them order off the kids menu so at least their meals were only $6.95, cheap first date!
Once we sat down and ordered he opened up more. I asked about his parents and his siblings, what he would be doing over the summer, stuff like that. Then I let them talk and goof off with each other while I sat back and ate my dinner. He seems like a great kid, comes from a good family, and I can tell he really cares about my daughter. Apparently he had a good time too because as we were getting up to leave he told Kyla to ask me if I’d take them out again. Next time, the movies!
I said we’ll try to figure it out in the next couple of weeks. I don’t necessarily want to encourage her to have a boyfriend, but I do want to encourage her to have healthy relationships. I think most parents would like to delay the whole dating thing as long as possible, but she’s at the age where she’s going to have feelings and I have to do the best I can to be involved and build trust. I want her to talk to me about how they treat each other, I want her to know she can tell me if something doesn’t feel right. I want to know if something goes wrong with him and she’s hurting, and I want to make sure she treats him nicely too.
I hope I am doing the right thing…
Anyway, I need to get to bed but I’ve been meaning to write about this since Friday… so here it is!
Thanks for reading.