The kids and I went out to dinner the other night. It was a Friday night, and we wanted to get out of the house and do something fun. Or at least I wanted to, so I made the kids come with me. Played the mama doesn’t want to cook and is sick of drive-thru card. We went to this little hamburger place near by. Living in a college town, there were a lot of college kids there. More specifically, college boys.
I first noticed it when we were at the cashier stand placing our order, but didn’t think a lot about it. Just a fleeting thought. But then it happened again when we were at the soda fountain getting our drinks, and a little bell went off in my head. The third time was while we were sitting at our table, and that little bell turned into a full-blown alarm. The college boys were looking at my baby girl. My Taylor Belle.
I always knew this day was coming. When the boys would notice my daughter. When she would start dating. When someone would take her breath away and she would fall in love. When her heart would be broken.
I’m not ready for this yet.
Since each of my children was born, I have preached to them that they need to wait until they are at least thirty to get married. I have encouraged them to go to college, get paid for something they love doing, spend time with friends, see the world – and then think about settling down. Joey is thirty-one and still single. I have no doubt that it is more because he witnessed so many of my mistakes first-hand rather than because he was following my advice. He hates rules as much as I do. But that’s a story for another day.
Taylor is mere weeks from turning sixteen. When I told her years ago that she couldn’t date until she was sixteen, I had no idea that time would get here so quickly. She has mentioned a few times over the last year that I won’t have to worry about her dating because none of the boys are interested in her. I remember feeling that way when I was her age. But she’s wrong. They are becoming interested. And it scares me.
I want Taylor to know that she is special just the way she is, and that she shouldn’t waste her time with anyone who doesn’t treat her that way. That having a boyfriend is not the most important thing. That someone can either bring out the best in us or the worst – and to find someone who brings out the best in her self. Someone who wants the best for her.
I want to tell her that sometimes boys will say things just to get what they want. And what they want is sex. And sex is not the same as love.
I want her to understand that it’s hard to tell the difference between love and infatuation. Really hard. Love lasts – infatuation does not. If you think they’re perfect, then it’s infatuation. No one is perfect.
I want to tell her to wait for love.
I want her to know that if she ever finds herself in a situation where she is not comfortable, all she has to do is call me and I will drop anything and everything to come get her. No questions asked.
I want to tell her that jealousy is not love. Someone trying to control you is not love.
I want to say that sometimes people will hurt you. If they didn’t do it on purpose, forgive them and hope they do the same for you if you ever hurt them. If they hurt you on purpose, forgive them anyway, but consider very carefully whether or not you want to be in a position to let them do it a second time.
I want her to know that there will be times when she thinks her heart might absolutely break. It won’t. But it does hurt like hell. And that sucks. But she will get over it. I promise.
I want her to understand that it’s better to be alone than to be with the wrong person. That she doesn’t need a boyfriend to be happy.
I want to say that you can’t change someone else. You have to love them as they are. Or don’t.
I want her to know that she will make mistakes. Everyone does. But to think about the choices she makes. Some decisions could change her life forever. But I guess most of all, I want my baby girl to know that there isn’t a mistake that she could make that I haven’t already made. That I will be here for her, no matter what.
Turning sixteen and starting to date is a precious time. Baby girl, enjoy this. Don’t rush this. In what will seem like a blink of an eye, you will be married with a daughter of your own.
I’m seriously thinking that I may need to adjust my rule about Taylor Belle not dating until she is sixteen. What was I thinking? Seventeen would be so much better. Seriously, I need more time.