Yesterday I had a very upsetting conversation with my daughter. It started out with her saying, "Mom, in six years I'll be able to drive." "Yep," I said, cautiously. "I'll probably have a boyfriend in, like, five years though," she continued. "Maybe," I allowed. "You had a lot of boyfriends, didn't you, Mom?" she asked. Uh-oh. Called out by my own kid! What to say, what to do?
The truth is, yes, I did have a lot of boyfriends. And it's my own hard-won dating wisdom coupled with stories like the one about 18-year-old Massachusetts teen Lauren Astley who was killed by her ex-boyfriend over July 4th weekend that make me afraid to let my daughter have ANY. Boyfriends, that is. Ever.
What scares me is that teens have all the grown-up body parts and hormones going for them, but none of the common sense or good judgment that we (supposedly) acquire with age ... it's a recipe for disaster. I didn't fully realize the gravity of the situation until a few months ago when I had to make a visit to the high school I graduated from (long, unrelated story short, I was there as a reporter to interview a teacher).
As I walked down the familiar halls, the memories came flooding back ... that's the corner where I used to hide with my boyfriend and make out ... there's the locker of that girl he turned out to be sleeping with behind my back ... that's the bathroom my friend took a pregnancy test in.
Then I took a closer look at the kids rushing past me, their arms full of books and faces full of angst, and suddenly it hit me: Oh my god, these are children! Big tall children, yes, but children! That means my friends and I were children too when we were doing all of those very adult things we obviously weren't ready to handle at all. But no way anybody could've told me that at the time -- I was too headstrong, passionate, and ignorant to understand that I didn't have the slightest idea what I was doing when it came to boys (or anything else, really).
I know my daughter will feel exactly the same way when she hits her teens.
And that is why I will be sending her off to become a nun shortly after her 13th birthday.
Are you scared to let your daughter start dating?
Image via Karoly Czifra/Flickr