Friday, April 6, 2012
The Dating Game
I always knew the time would come when I would have to sit down with my daughter and have a one-to-one chat about the big wide world of dating, about the games that are played, the feelings involved, and the inevitable interactions of her friends. I did not expect it to come so quickly, I thought I had another couple of years at least, especially as we have only just conquered her school phobia and anxiety issues (admittedly with the help of her counselor, without whom we would still be battling it I am sure). So, you can imagine my schizophrenic attitude towards her when she came home proudly one day and announced she had been asked to be someone's sweetheart.
It sounded so innocent, the word sweetheart, but when I heard the whole story I knew my time was up. Our current mother-daughter relationship was going to have to change up a notch; she was going to need the big girl's mummy advice now. You see, one of her friends had carefully negotiated this invitiation of becoming a sweetheart on my daughter's behalf, but not on her instruction. It seemed the friend was quite happy to be the surrogate sweetheart and, as time went on, she proved it so. I sat back for a while offering gentle words of advice but unfortunately by the time my daughter had gained her confidence, she had also realized that the friend was the one wearing the boys jacket, sitting with her legs on his, and was involved in many a cozy tête-à-tête's with him.
She was lost, trying to make sense of the whole situation. On the one hand, she liked this boy and on the other, she was seeing her friend in a new light, the light of a young woman in the making. My first reaction was to wade in and protect, teach her how to play the games people play but that seemed unfair, she is a nice sweet girl, that is not in her character and, most importantly, she likes her friend a lot. I got my thinking cap on and made a decision, I would help her in another way.
A long time ago, in my professional capacity, I would train adults in the corporate world in the art of understanding human behavior and interactions to get the best result. I also had a vision of teaching teenagers these skills but, as life takes over, there never seemed the right time. I also realized that I had become rusty myself on these issues, after all, I was about to help her draw her weapons and shoot the girl (metaphorically of course). This seemed a perfect opportunity to resurrect the books and start equipping her with the right skills. I need my daughter to understand human behaviors and know how to deal with them and schools just do not do have that on their curriculum. I wanted to make sure that she came out feeling good about herself even if she didn't get the boy.
As it turned out, the boy solved the issue for me. He soon moved on to her friend's friend, and then repeated the pattern over again. The girls realized they were the ones to have been played, played against each other but I am not giving up on my idea. This taste of what is to come was a wakeup call for me. My books are out and I am going to go through them with my daughter one-step at a time. Who knows I may even devise a training plan for teenagers to help them cope and understand human interactions. I am no psychologist, just an individual who thinks that life skills are just as important as algebra and punctuation.