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Note: This is part 2. If you missed part 1, check it out here.
Now that we had decided that our daughter would not date and talked to our daughter about the reasons why, we started to work on the alternative plan.
If she wasn’t going to date, what was it she was doing? For one thing she was being social, just not independently. We were not ready for that independent part and since she is (still) the child, she isn’t ready for it. Yes, we said that. She was not ready. We are the parents and we decide that.
A supervised outing seemed perfectly fine. My daughter and her “friend” picked a movie that fit their age and coordinated a time and day of the week. A Saturday matinee would suffice for this outing. My wife and I had agreed in advance that whatever coming of age, young tragedy they picked, we would endure it. And so it was set. A few weeks passed and we headed out for the movie theater. Naturally, my daughter was dragging her feet a little with “getting ready”. But that’s more apart of who she is than it was nerves. Or, was it? I really couldn’t tell who was more nervous. My daughter, me, my wife? With my daughter’s prep complete, we finally got into the car and on the way.
As we drove, one image began to form vividly in my mind. This would be one of those kids whose pants fall below the waist. He would be dressed like a suburban, hip hop gangster.This would be one of those kids whose pants fall below the waist. He would be dressed like a… Click To Tweet
I was almost sure of it! And when we did meet, he would greet me with a flippant “S’up, old man”. I gripped the steering wheel tighter at that last part of the thought.
My wife and I hated to be late and we weren’t going to be. I pushed a little harder on the accelerator.
Pulling into the parking lot of the outdoor shopping center, we discussed expected behavior with our daughter one last time. We piled out of the vehicle and made our way to the area in front of the movie theater. As we walked, some questions flitted through my mind. Who was this kid that captured my daughter’s thoughts? Would he stomp her heart and crush it? What were his intentions? But most importantly, was this young man the flippant, gangster, desperately in need of a belt type that I had thought up?
We walked around in front of the theater for more than a few minutes looking for some young man only my daughter knew. Was he going to show? He damn well better. No one stands up my daughter. Then suddenly, a recognition by my daughter murmured almost sublingually, “they are here.”
Shit, this was getting real.
The young man approached with his father. He was not the thug, I was expecting at all! I felt a small sense of relief.
We exchanged pleasantries and made some small talk. We learned that mom and dad were a divorced couple. The dad was traveling on business and made a visit with his son part of a trip. The young man and his mom had recently relocated to a different school district away from my daughter’s school. We briefed the dad on the usual (and unusual facts) about our couplehood. And as quick as we encountered them, the dad departed and we made our way towards the ticket booth.
With tickets purchased, we headed inside the movie theater to the refreshment stand. The young man turned out to be fairly quiet but, well mannered. I was surprised and pleased. This wasn’t a judgement against my daughter, more a relief in the realization of her current preferences. No thugs and no obvious need for a belt. I breathed a silent sigh of relief.
The relative silence from the “friends” may have been due to our presence or, the fact that so much communication is tapped out via text message, Instagram or, Snapchat. I wasn’t sure which.
As a side note: I do sense an impending decline in Western civilization due to our youth’s apparently declining verbal ability and crippled spelling due to the use of abbreviations and emojis on these “modern” communication platforms.
With refreshments in hand we laid down one requirement. I know it was communicated in advance but, we wanted to be sure it was heard. Very. Clearly.
So, we re-iterated it: The “friends” could sit wherever they chose but, we would sit directly in the row behind them. This may seem old-fashioned but, it is the one point of delineation between independent socializing/dating and this first step that we agreed to be involved.
I’m not sure my wife and I exactly got our money’s worth watching the movie. In fact, I can’t even recall the movie with much clarity. To be honest, we were a lot more intent on watching the “friends” than the movie. In the end, we are happy to report that nothing unsavory happened. The movie ended and we made our way back to the lobby. The boy’s dad showed up a few minutes later and we all departed.
We spoke on the way home only as much as our daughter was willing. She didn’t have much to say. But, her focus on her phone revealed the truth. Communicating with her peers was a top priority. And who could blame her, when we were of that age that kind of stuff was big news. Even if this supervised outing wasn’t a full on date.
Have you had experiences with your teenager dating? Were you involved in anyway in the early stages of your teen being more socially active? Leave your comments below.