The day is coming, and I know it.
My little girl, Violet, who turns 5 in a couple of months, is going to walk in the front door from school someday down the road and sit down at the kitchen island and flop her pretty little head down into her arms and start bawling like a fresh widow.
I’ll know then that she has arrived.
I’ll understand at that very moment that Violet has a crush on a boy (or a girl, I could care less) and that she has finally slumped down into her seat on the loopy roller-coaster known as “teenage dating.”
There’s not much I can do about it either, I guess. A zillion dads before me have had to try and talk tender teen hearts down out of a tree. Ugh! Poor guys. I can’t believe that’s going to be me!
These poor fellas do their best, that’s for sure, but it isn’t easy. This whole “my daughter is dating” thing is treacherous ground, to be sure. Good, honest men who have lived commendable lives thus far are suddenly forced to offer up strict counsel disguised as “friendly reminders” AND hand out extra 20-dollar bills (“Don’t tell your mom”) as they hope for the best while they stare helplessly at the clock at 8:37 pm on a Friday night; a man waiting for the return of the most important lady in his life … and some punk in a pee-colored Saturn.
Still, considering all of this, I’ve decided to dip my toe in this rough and tumble sea a little earlier than some guys might. Maybe get some practice before I’m up to my eyelids in 120-proof drama. So without any solicitation or queries from anyone anywhere in the entire galaxy, I am nevertheless hereby offering up my very own dating advice for my daughter when she is a teenager. Hopefully, it might help other parents along the way, too.
Yes, I know it’s all so presumptuous and even a little ridiculous, but hey, I am a daddy and because of my bottomless love for a certain kid, it’s my job, my very destiny, to talk about things with her as long as I can flap my gums, even when she’s looking at me someday down the road, laughing and crying at the very same time, with the sweetest “Dad, please just shut up” eyes you’ve ever seen.
For Violet, someday 1 of 12
Go easy 2 of 12
Hey kid. I just want to take a second to tell you that I love you more than pizza or fishing and that I want you to be happy forever. So, please go easy on yourself when you start dating, okay? There will be times when you seriously think that your world may be rocked beyond repair, but please trust me when I promise you that it really isn't. Your heart is such a valuable one in this world, so don't beat it up like a punching bag. Cry all you want. Then cry some more if you need to. Your mom and I will be around, we're not afraid to wipe away tears. And when you're ready, you can pour it all out to us if you want.
Use your cell phone 3 of 12
Call me up, no matter what. Seriously. Your mom and I are paying the bill for that cell phone for a lot or reasons, but mostly because we want you to know that you can just give us a ring no matter WHAT is going on, no matter WHEN or WHY; we don't care and we will never care. Just call us: from a car, from a bathroom at a party, from a parking lot near a weird liquor store or a bowling alley snack bar or wherever. Just take a deep breath and relax and call us up and we will help you right away, without any hesitation or questions ever.
We won't be mad tonight and we won't be mad tomorrow night either. But we will probably hug you until you wanna puke. Oh well.
Be nice to everyone 4 of 12
Dating should be fun and something you really look forward to, but unfortunately that's not always the case.
Life has its ways of making things a little confusing sometimes. When that happens people often start panicking. I guess what I am trying to offer up here is that, no matter what, always try and be kind and considerate to the people on your dating scene. Boyfriends, girlfriends, whatever. Don't ever think that you have to be cruel to be cool because that's just not true. Especially when other guys and girls are feeling just as vulnerable and unsure of themselves as you are.
Don't make quick judgements about other people's experiences, if you can help it. And use your own experiences to help make you an even stronger, brighter young lady than you already are (if that's even possible?!).
Don’t be surprised if I show up 5 of 12
Okay, so you're out on a date with someone who you think you really like. Awesome. You guys go to the movies at the mall and things are really going well, you're laughing a lot and both of you can't stop smiling. After the flick, the two of you are sitting at the Food Court having some burgers and talking about how much you both LOVE french fries and HATE pickles when, all of the sudden, out of the corner of your eye, you notice me ... Dad ... over by the Orange Julius, in a hoodie with the hood up.
Please don't judge me, kiddo! I love you so much! And don't say anything about me spying on you to your Mom, okay? Pretty please?
Tickets and stuff 6 of 12
Look, I want you and your date to have a good time. I know that there are all kinds of very strange ideas of just what a 'good time' can mean out there in the world, too, so let me make you an offer you can't refuse, okay? Movies, cool places to eat, amusement parks, most concerts, museums (I know, I know ... I'm just throwing it out there!), almost anything at all that you might need tickets or a gift card for, I'll be happy to pick up the tab on that within reason.
No, I probably can't swing front row tickets for most things, but if I can ... heck, I'll try. Either way, the way I see it, I just want you guys to have fun doing interesting things, and I am totally willing to help make that happen for both of you, no strings attached. Just ask me.
Keep things private 7 of 12
I know that by the time you are 13 or so, there will be so much about computers and the internet that is stunning and tremendous that my tales of life before cyber space will bore you and your friends to tears. Still, I also know that with the good comes the bad, and the internet also has a really dark and twisted penchant for taking something you say, or a picture you send to someone in private, and sharing it with, well, the whole damn world.
Don't let that happen to you, kid. Be smart about who you share your dating life with. You'll learn as you go, of course, but in the beginning, be as excited or as skeeved out or as uncertain as you want to be about stuff, but still save most of it for lunchroom chatter when you can.
Remember that there are two kinds of people in the world 8 of 12
Kid, for what it's worth, I have always believed and found that there are two kinds of people in this world. Everyone has a mixture of fear and confusion and sadness inside of them for a million different reasons, but what it all comes down to is just HOW a person chooses to handle that stuff.
Even at your age, as a teenager, you will soon recognize that certain people just cannot resist being angry or mean or hurtful. The world is full of these folks and there's nothing you can do to avoid them, except...avoid them.
That said, there are a lot of wonderful people out there as well, people who like other people and who want to laugh and smile and help each other out when they can. If you find yourself crushing on someone like that, then by all means: ask them out! And if someone you thought was one way turns out to be some different, just move on. It's sad sometimes, I know, but trust me on this one.
Don’t be afraid to say no 9 of 12
Don't ever be afraid or ashamed to say the word 'no' to someone, okay? I mean it. The world was built on 'no' just as much as it was built on 'yes'. When someone offers you some Peach Schnapps in the woods down by the park or someone wants to kiss you when you really don't want to kiss them: just look them square in the eye, smile, and say,"No thanks, none today for me."
If all else fails though, just announce that you have to pee and go call me on the cell phone. Then I'll call you back and say it's an emergency and that I have to come pick you up right away because your grandmother has been arrested!!! Then we'll go shopping or grab some ice cream, just the two of us.
Talk to us 10 of 12
Ever since the moment you were born, your mom and I have spent most of our time trying to make sure that you are okay, and that you're happy and smiling a lot. So now, as you are growing up so fast and doing so many cool things, I just want to sneak into your world for a quick sec to remind you that even though we're old and maybe not quite as cool as we used to be, we still get pretty thrilled whenever you come to one of us to talk.
If you have a problem or a question or you just want to vent or gossip, believe me when I tell you that we are always up for any of it as long as it includes you. And lest you think that your dad has no idea about a lot of the heavy stuff you are dealing with when it comes to who you are or are not dating, all I can say is 'try me'. Please.
Again, I won’t be far away …. 11 of 12
Alright, so I helped get pretty good tickets for you and your friends and your dates to go see a band that you've all been dying to see. It's your first concert without chaperones and you're dancing up a storm in the aisles of the concert hall and you have never been so happy in your life and just then this fellow that you really like puts his arm around your shoulder and squeezes you tight and gives you a tiny cute peck on the top of your head and you are so happy and ...OH. MY.GOD. OH MY GOD, IS THAT MY DAD?!
Yup, you see me two rows over and three rows back, sucking diet cola through a straw and fist-pumping the air as I stare right at you and smile my guilty smile. Oh boy: I'm busted. Please don't tell anyone again, okay? I just wanted to make sure things went smoothly is all. I know I'm a giant dork. But I love you. And hey, this band is pretty good, you know?
You’re not alone 12 of 12
Believe it or not, your mom and me know a thing or two about love. We do, I swear. We know that it hurts. And we know that it's awesome. We know that you might feel like a shooting star one minute, burning up with all of the electric atmosphere inside you, only to turn around and have your good heart smashed up pretty good by someone or something you never saw coming. We know that love and all of it's funny ways aren't fair. And we know that we wouldn't change a thing about all of the pain and suffering and happiness and thrills we have known across our lifetime of living and loving.
Try and remember these things whenever you get to thinking that you're all alone when it comes to what you feel inside. Because you're not. Really. And you never ever will be. I love you.
You can also find Serge on his personal blog, Thunder Pie.
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