Other People's Kids, Writing

You’re Too Damn Young & Other Things I Tell Kids

Get the shotgun ready…what to do when you’re pre-teen daughter wants a boyfriend

She curled her lip and closed her eyes slightly. Her dad sat across from her with a stern look on his face arching his eyebrow almost as the pending question left a repulsive taste in his mouth. I sat adjacent, as she attempted to announce each word. I couldn’t imagine it, time waits for no one and man oh man was this ever so true. I wasn’t prepared. We weren’t prepared, but you know how it is when you’re raising kids or helping raise kids, the teen years sort of creep on you. One minute you’re teaching them how to read and write their own name, the next…the have the audacity to try to grow-up on you. I wasn’t ready for this and I don’t think any parent is really ready for this kind of stuff. I would take removing my wisdom teeth over a day like this: the day of reckoning.

I remember her age, twelve. Jesus Christ, Ashley was now twelve. Just twelve years ago she was born, I mean I know how time works, it’s just that I couldn’t imagine it happening this fast. When I was twelve, I used to collect Pokemon cards, ride around the neighborhood in my beat-up old bike and watch Saturday morning cartoons. Yet, Ashley was growing up in a day and age of twerking, social media fads, and Presidents who get elected without prior political experience; so it made sense why she would make this odd request. The problem was…she was just too damn young.

She flinched and barely could muster up the words. At first, she looked in her father’s general direction then at me like I had all the answers. Her father adjusted his body, squared his shoulders and promptly waited. We all were gathered around the table: Emily, Ashley, Elijah, their father and I. All were on the roster with the exception of their mother who should be really filtering through this questions. Yet, she found her way underneath a stack of blankets in the neighboring room pretending to rest so she wouldn’t to deal. Unlike her, my uncle/dad and I decided that we would still remain a family unit. We discussed this type of things because the kind of children their father and I had agreed on raising meant that we had to come collectively even if their mother didn’t want to participate. The gray hairs on his hairline formed a perfect line segment displaying time. Ashley bit her lip and continue with a whisper.

“At what age can I have a boyfriend?” she posed then swallowed deeply, looking side to side and avoiding all forms of eye contact. I almost swung back my hand and caught her face by mistake.

Her father and eye looked at each other. I was the first to speak up. I asked follow-up questions such as, why she felt the need to have a boyfriend. Surely, if the answer was to hug and kiss, she might as well hugged me and kissed herself and get the whole notion out of her mindset. I elaborated that if either parties, meaning her and this young man, needed to ask either one of their parental units for monetary funds to go out on this “date” then clearly they weren’t ready for dating. To me, in this new millennial age, people no longer “go study” or date for the purpose of marriage. Dating is now an excuse for sex and the sample fact was…she was too damn young.

I already imagine what the boy looked like. I envisioned some punk with pants down to his ankles, large colorful boxer shorts and a backwards hat followed by horrible grammar and improper use of the english language. He was probably 100 feet tall because I don’t know what their feeding kids nowadays but it seems like they were more giants than regular sized kids. Something must be in the water and my generation skipped it. I bet he swore in his household and didn’t know the meaning of chores or discipline. I couldn’t control how other people raise their kids but I could control how mine was portrayed and the fact of the matter was…she was too damn young.

Raising daughters in an unjust society where not getting pregnant is high priority than intimacy. Intimacy, it’s not just undressing and getting your jollies off. Intimacy is romance, the scenes where you see in the movies where you have no idea why a couple of strangers bother to invest time in each other. Relationships are hard work. It’s about compromise, building a future for one another and the fact that I had to explain that to a child didn’t mean she was in the clear to date. The point of the matter was, she needed to focus on her books and that young man really wanted to date her, well, he was just going to show himself at my front door and muster the nerve to ask for permission. I needed to hear sincerity in his tone and genuity in his actions. Maybe he did want to just go the movies with Ashley and bring her back home. If he showed compassion and well-upbringing, at that point, I would drive them to the date myself. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.

No, Ashley was not allowed to date or have a boyfriend but she did find a way to call herself someone’s little girlfriend, that little sneak. But more on that later.

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