Monday, March 16, 2009

Dating, the Second Round

No- I am NOT talking about dating after divorce, or after the end of a long relationship- because I know absolutely nothing about that, other than it is mortifying, terrifying, and there are some very upsetting people out there. I tried eharmony and for some reason they decided to match me up with people in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Apparently there are no book reading, humorous, sober, reasonably attractive men in my age group on this continent. It is a little hard to do that "just a cup of coffee and we will take it from there" when the man in question lives in Dubai, so that was a problem. Then I tried craigslist, or rather my daughter tried it for me- wrote a sweet little ad looking for " a nice man for my mom". You would think that would cut down on the first contact photographs of hard-ons, wouldn't you? Nope. We got a nice flashfile of Mr. Bean with a boner that kept springing up and down, and a number of nice gentlemen who would like to be spanked, and then told to stand in the corner with soap in their mouths, because they are dirty, smutty, bad boys. Then I tried a web site for sober people. Oh dear. Typical guy is proud to be honest about the fact that he just got out of jail " but just for credit card fraud, not armed robbery, because, just being honest, I never got caught doing that" and he is " a bit out of shape" and " not a reader" and as a 45 year old is quite reasonably only interested in women under 25. Well, he sure does have that honesty thing going for him.
So, no, this is not about that kind of dating. This is about what happens when your own child starts dating, and you have suddenly got memories of being that age again, and of all the things your parents told you ,or didn't tell you, and all the things your friends told you or showed you, or hinted at and then the actual memories of what it was actually like. I have survived this bizarre time of life- having had children rather young- but am now seeing my friends reach this juncture. So I want to share my infinite wisdom.
1) Start early, using literature. It is alwaysbetter to leave a book lying around with nice straightforward lines drawings of the reproductive system than to over do it in the "Mommy and Daddy love each other very much" department. Kids want to know about sex, but they absolutely do not want to know about their parents having sex, with each other or anybody else, ever. Think of your own parents if you doubt me. Now stop making terrible face.
2) Answer only the question that is asked; do not elaborate. Wait for the next question. So if your child says " Last night the baby sitter let us watch Rosemary's Baby and I just want to know how Rosemary got pregnant" just say " The Devil knocked her up with a spell" don't get all crazy with penis in vagina stuff, because is not the answer to this question. Wait for the next question.
3) Make a serious effort to provide the same amount of information to children of both genders. If you are going to buy your son condoms when he is fourteen, slap him on the back and say " atta boy" then what are you going to do when his sister hits 8th grade? Or if your eldest is a girl, and you just want to sew her underpants to her undershirt, and tell her to watch out because " a stiff prick has no conscience" what will you tell her brother? I can not actually answer this question- since my children are all female- but I can tell you that only buying condoms for the boys is a big mistake, as is only cautioning the girls to be careful who they kiss.
4)Do what you can to fight our lovely culture. If you have any success with this, please let me know.
5) Be prepared for a wild time sorting out your own memories, both fond and traumatic. Just as having your child learn to read brought back memories of your own early literacy, watching a child start to date is going to bring on some whoppers. If you don't journal or blog or email your old friends to process - this might be a good time to start.
6) Be around. Now is a good time to be the parent who is has got their cell phone with them at all times, charged, and volume on. Be prepared to come and intervene as needed.
7) Have a good code word for abort mission. This means that your child can call you up and say
" Oh please, please , please can I go swim in the abandoneed quarry on ecstacy with the escaped convicts, everybody is doing it?" and you will know that the please, please, please was code for Mom ( or Dad) I don't want to do this, but I don't want to seem uncool, so could you please forbid it and get me off the hook?
8) Have a no harm, no foul rule. This means that if your kids gets into the shit, and then has to call you up to get them out of the quarry later, you go get them and don't make a big huge fuss. If you punish your child severely for being in a bad situation then the next time they won't call you- they may call somebody who thinks a good solution for a little alcohol poisoning is to leave the kid in the woods. This doesn't mean chaufering your child from jackpot to jackpot- and I wish I could tell you that being open and available means your kid will be far less likely to get into danger. Not so, but being the first person they call is invaluable.
Alright that is enough for now- More as soon as I think of it.


  1. Number 8 was a life saver in my dad's household (for me, I mean. My children at 4 and 1 are, I hope, not quite ready to date). But knowing I could call at any time with a get out of jail free card was immensely reassuring. I don't think I actually ever needed it but it made me feel very safe. I will save this list for when I need it in a few years time. Wahhh!

  2. I love #6 and #7. Yes, be the evil uncool parent if it means your child is spared the embarrassment of being the uncool child.