As my 13yo son has moved into adolescence a new world has opened up to him, a world that I am finding interesting to watch vicariously: dating. As with so many things in parenting, it’s extraordinarily easy to watch from a distance and offer insightful advice based on years of wisdom that’s then promptly ignored as the child continues to proceed as they think is best. Way less embarrassing for them.
And at 13, G- is really amazingly susceptible to being embarrassed. I don’t know if it’s true for all 13yo boys, but regardless of the situation, his goal is for everyone around him to go through their day without ever drawing an iota of attention to themselves. What I do when I’m by myself is no big deal, but when we’re together, he’s constantly remind me not to sing, whistle, talk loud, wave at people across a room, anything. Zero attention.
Meanwhile, dating’s interesting because it’s the girls that stand out that generally draw the attention of the boys, and vice-versa. Even as an adult I find that’s the case when I walk into a room and scan everyone’s face to decide with whom I want to strike up a conversation. Problem is, this rather goes in the face of the mortal fear of embarrassment, so, as I said, it’s interesting to watch it play out on a day to day basis.
Reflecting that this is just starting to be a Big Deal with G-, my holiday present to him this year was my “Gentleman’s Dating Kit”, a gift card to the local movie theater that’d cover two tickets and a gift card to Chipotle, a popular fast food place that has reasonably healthy food, and a note identifying it as the “Gentleman’s Dating Kit” and promising that we’d talk about the how’s and why’s of dating too. Through a bit of collusion on my part, his little sister also bought him a bottle of Nautica cologne. Perfect, right?
He was thrilled with the present muchly because I’m the one constantly saying “no single couple dates yet!” but also because he also has the opportunity to demonstrate some independence with a gal in the loop. Far less embarrassing than having to ask me for money.
But then there’s this whole “conversation” thing. Now to be fair, we’ve already had many conversations about how to treat others, how to act around a girl, strategies for asking a girl out, etc. The more serious conversations are coming down the road very soon — it’s not quite yet time with his progress in this regard — but he’s already slammed face-first into that Don’t Embarrass Me wall with the innocuous topics we’ve discussed.
Should be… interesting… as we proceed down this road. Anyone got some advice? 🙂
Lest you’re curious, yes, I realized after the fact that “instant happiness” as the slogan on the Chipotle gift card that’s part of my imparting some wisdom related to dating is perhaps just a bit less than optimal.