I started the brainwashing early, basically when they were toddlers. I’d be playing Barbies with my girls, and one daughter always wanted her Barbies to go on dates. I’d play along, but sneakily add my own agenda.
“Hi Ken!” I’d used my cheery Barbie voice, which kind of resembles a higher pitched version on my own, after Mommy’s sucked some helium. Don’t judge me–nobody wants Barbie to sound like a three-pack a day smoker.
“Hi!” Ken responded, doing her best to deepen her voice. Ken was never much of a conversationalist.
“I’m sorry, Ken. Did we have a date today?” Barbie chirped.
“Yes. We are going to McDonalds.” Oh, that Ken. Such a big spender. (Really, my girls loved McDonalds in an obsessive manner. They were hard-core Happy Meal addicts by the age of 4. We’re not proud of it since we introduced them to the habit.)
“Ok, that sounds like fun. But remember, you have to meet my Mom and Dad first.”
“Ok,” Ken readily agrees. You know why? Because he doesn’t know any better.
Flash forward twelve years or so, when the girls turn 16. Yes, we waited until 16 to let our girls date. And since we laid the groundwork super early, they didn’t even bat an eyelash when it came up in real conversation.
Here’s how we do it: the boy has to come to the house (or, in one case, Starbucks) to meet the parents. We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. Really, though, it’s only happened once.
I was relating this story once and was asked, “Is it really fair, though, to restrict who they see? Won’t that just set them up for failure in relationships down the road?”
My response, “Trust me, I’m not trying to protect them from heartache. That finds its way in no matter how protective we are.”
Let me be clear: we aren’t Duck Dynasty here. Nobody’s cleaning guns or changing into camo before the big meeting. We just want to let the boy (or girl) know that this kid means a lot to us and sometimes, when it comes down to it, we can be a bit…unstable…when we find that someone has sleazy motives. You don’t have sleazy motives, you’ll be fine.
Many boys have come and gone throughout the years. We’ve seen cowboys and jocks and everybody in between.
One boy was not so admirable. He was rumored to have smoked pot behind Pizza Hut and really wanted my daughter to see the interior of his apartment to “watch a movie.” Um, no.
For the most part, we’ve tried to keep the rules the same for Mancub as we did for the girls. We’ve bent them in special circumstances but for the most part, Mancub and Watergirl only see each other at school, church and at our house. They can go to school events (dances, etc.) or to the movies or out to eat…with us. I mean, he doesn’t drive yet. I don’t see the need to push it.
And to be fair, I never practiced too much on the Ken side of dating.