Kathleen McCall:
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2004-10-16 - 8:42 a.m.


Every once in a while, I check in on my memories of being my childrens' ages, and compare. Fourteen, I was...yeah, okay, my kid's fine. She's all good.

History is what it is. You can't really rewrite it. You can put a different slant on it, though. I sure as hell wasn't dating at fourteen or fifteen.

We just had sex if we wanted to.

See, I didn't DO the dating thing. I can't remember if I ever did it at all. The thing, the thing where (I think) boys phone you up, and they ask you out? Right?

I just never really got to be in that time or place. I don't know anything about it. I think me ex-husband must have asked me out at one point, like called me up on the telephone and suggested that we have dinner or something, when I was in my twenties. Don't really remember how that happened. But at Prime Dating Age, I was living in a more-or-less commune, doing things I would certainly prefer my daughters didn't do. Hypocrisy? Nahhh, wisdom.

Should I ever really need to, though, I can put yet another slant on that mental history: many things can be survived.

In the meantime, there's Homecoming Dance. "Ask your father about that," I say, in desperation. "Ask Lena next door, she did that sort of thing." We never had Homecoming. Had some excellent potlucks, though.

A boy has asked Older Daughter. This is all right. It just means they find each other while there and they're "together". There won't be any picking up in cars or going places after or that sort of thing. Not on my watch. She's fourteen! No communal potlucks and sex for my kid!

Except this boy, who I refer to affectionately as the ScumBag, then UNinvited her. After she had accepted. That's right.

But maybe he's changed his mind. Maybe she'll still go with him.

"Well, it's your choice," I tell her. "But I'm gonna have OPINIONS on it. And you're going to hear them." She's pretty good about that. I don't know if she listens, but she tolerates.

"I think I'm gonna come to your school and teach manners," I say. That one's not even worth an eye-roll; she knows I won't. "Here's how you invite someone - "Would you like to go to the Homecoming Dance with me?" Here's how you respond: "Yes, I'd love to, thank you," or "No, but thank you for asking." That's all there is. It's not really a creative opportunity."

One of her best friends had a girl ask him by saying, "Want to go to homecoming together because we'd save five bucks on the tickets?" Yeah. No. But even so, you are not to give the creative reply - "Nope. But hey, if you need the five bucks so bad, I'll give it to you."

Except ScumBag. In that case, I think it's okay for my kid to accept, then bag him one day before the dance and go with girlfriends. Yep. Okay, no it isn't. But I like the thought. Don't mess with my KID.

Dating is going to be painful, I can see. I'm just too old for it. Haven't the patience. I'm not ready to date. I'm not.

At twelve or thirteen, I had crushes on boys. I never told my mother about it, though. It wouldn't even have occurred to me to discuss it with her. Now I'm getting the blow-by-blow here at I've Discovered Boys Central.

This a good thing. This is a good thing. This is a good thing.

Let's see, at fourteen, I was....oh yes. This is a good thing. She's doing fine. We'll survive.


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