Forget all the poopy diapers and the birds and the bees talks. With Valentine's Day coming, I've hit upon the true stumbling block of motherhood. Twilight.
Frankly, it's fiction of the fluffiest variety. The kind that leaves your fingers cotton-candy sticky when you're done reading it, so you have to go wash them, but you can't help licking them on the way to the bathroom. It's delicious as a form of escape from the real world of raising kids.
Unfortunately, it's not written for you. It's written for kids. And this is the month when it gets particularly hard to hold it back from your teen daughters. Because while her friends are waltzing around talking about the best love story ever that she "just has to read for Valentine's Day if she ever wants to understand what true love is all about," you know it's a load of poop that only glitters in the sunshine.
Our daughters deserve better than Twilight for Valentine's Day. Unfortunately, at this age, there's no telling them that mother knows best. You're probably not going to be able to protect her from Twilight forever. But if you're ever going to teach your girls to treat Edward and Bella like the fictional characters they are, you are going to have to teach your girls something more important than how to spot a vampire. How to spot a decent love story.
A little help from some new favorites:
Jane by April Lindner. Where better to start than with a classic romance? It's Jane Eyre revisited, only this orphan is nannying for a rock star instead of Mr. Rochester. But the other markers are there: star-crossed romance, finding redemption in another's arms, and of course, figuring out whether it's better to live with someone's imperfections or live without them. Warts and all love -- something we could all use a refresher course in.
Falling in Love With English Boys by Melissa Jensen. Two girls, two centuries, two sexy English boys. In a novel that drifts back and forth between modern American teen Cat's blog posts and 19th-century Katherine's diary, Jensen manages to offer a not-so-subtle reminder of how far women have come in their rights to let their hearts lead their relationships -- rather than society or (worse) their parents. A novel that remains charming rather than preachy, it offers one major thing that Twilight does not: a stamp of approval on self-determination.
The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern. It's an odd choice, but bear with me. The movie version of her novel P.S. I Love You secured Ahern a spot on the traditional love story list, and now she's back with a 16-year-old protagonist. Through the eyes of a spoiled teen taken down a few notches when her wealthy dad dies, leaving her penniless, we get a subtle reminder that kids need to be nice to their parents (score!) and a not-so-subtle lesson in picking the right guy.
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. Light. Fluffy. Set in Paris. Exactly what a teenage romance is supposed to be, it's about friends becoming more than, and it's refreshingly angst-free. Oh, sweet normal teenagehood.
Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler. A story that's somewhat predictable -- wild child taken out of the city by mom calms down in small town, yawn -- gives way to the discovery of an old childhood friend grown up to be a stud. Be still my heart. Ockler doesn't deliver the moon, but that's not what she's promising either. She's giving us a regular teen and a regular teenage romance, and that is just what the (love) doctor ordered this Valentine's Day.
Do you dread the "oooh, Edward" phase?
Image via Amazon
Disclosure: I received review copies of the above books. All opinions are my own.