Dear Little Man,
This is not a bridge we’ll be crossing any time soon, but I have already been thinking about what insight I’ll be able to offer you in the dating department. The bulk of it will fall on your father’s shoulders. He’ll teach you about the birds and bees (BOOM. Boy Mom Perk #15) and be your primary example of how a gentleman treats a lady.
Our goal as parents will be to instill in you a strong, solid moral code. A value system that prizes inner beauty above all else. But we’re realistic. We know there will be times when you get distracted by something (someone) shiny. A girl who, God bless her, is cute as a button but totally lacks substance. Or a girl whose curves are on point, but Lord help her, has a lost, crooked compass.
That’s where I come in. I’m not here to brag, but….I can smell a skank from a mile away. And should you choose to parade one through my house? I will most certainly call you out. Not when she’s around, of course. But the second you kiss her goodnight and shut the door, the surround sound will begin to play an oldie but goodie from ’10s. Cued up to just the right verse:
My mama don’t like you and she likes everyone
And I never like to admit that I was wrong
And I’ve been so caught up in my job,
Didn’t see what’s going on
But now I know,
I’m better sleeping on my own
‘Cause if you like the way you look that much
Oh, baby, you should go and love yourself
I imagine you rolling your eyes as you appear in the doorway of your dad and I’s bedroom.
I’ll look up from painting my toe nails, innocence painted on my face.
That Justin Bieber. His hits are timeless. Total lyrical genius, don’t you agree son?
In all seriousness I’m not too worried about you choosing someone with shady intentions. Even if you do, I suspect the connection would fizzle out on its own. If nothing else she’ll grow tired of your dad and I being so parent-y. Always up in ya’lls business, asking intrusive questions like What are you two up to tonight? She might even call it quits before you do.
I think I will be far more helpful when it comes to determining whether you and/or the girl you are dating are really ready for a relationship. Not that you’ll listen. You’ll think you’re so smart by then.
But I’ll try. Because you may be smart, but I’ve been smart longer. And I earned my smart the hard way. So I hope you’ll at least hear me out, and learn from my regrets.
The thing is, your teens and early 20s are so much fun. It all feels new and exciting, full of hope. But there’s also a lot of pressure. Unlimited things vying for your time and attention. Voices coming from every which direction. Everyone wants a piece of you and not just any piece. The best piece. Your full academic effort, a fierce competitive performance. Never slack on your chores. Put your best employee foot forward. Choose the right college, the right career, and then get ALL the scholarships.
It’s impossible to maintain excellence in every arena. You’ll drop the ball here and there and your dad and I will try to provide grace when you do. But there is one area where we won’t tolerate you playing fast and loose:
Other people’s hearts.
Poor grades or performances aren’t permanent, but wounding a soul leaves a lasting mark. I wouldn’t want anyone to be reckless with your feelings, so I won’t put up with you being reckless with theirs. For their protection, certainly, but also yours. Regret is a heavy burden to bear.
All that said, when you find someone you want to spend your life with…I vow to be all in. She won’t be an in-law or outlaw, she’ll just be my daughter. A beloved one, at that. Mother-in-laws tend to be mocked as much as fathers in our society and I think that’s a shame. So I promise to do my best to buck the stereotypes.
Unless you choose a skank. In which case all that beloved stuff is out the window. ;)