Friday, November 7, 2008

Going steady at 10. Should I be worried?

There's a dance at my daughter's elementary school tonight. Parents must accompany the children and there's usually some sort of fundraising going on. Kids buy stale, salty popcorn, bargain soda and poorly lit photos to support someone's something. I don't know. In the six years my daughter has been at this school, I have never attended one dance.

She, on the other hand, has only missed one. She has friends with kind mothers. Mothers who think it's no big deal when a kid eats too much soda and popcorn, jumps on the jumpy thing then pukes all over the gym floor and doesn't tell anyone. My daughter- of course- slips and falls in the puke puddle and comes home in the borrowed clothes from the nurse's station- those clothes usually reserved for the kid who didn't make it to the bathroom on time.
At any rate, as disgusting as that event was, my daughter still managed to have a good time, and I am all about the good time, so I am letting her go the The Fall Dance.

Even though...She came home yesterday and unloaded her backpack, lunchbox, books, notebooks. Then she pulled out a giftbag. "What's this?"
Me glancing up from my computer where I am simultaneously texting one person, IM'ing another, editing a photo and drafting a short story.. "OOh. Looks like someone has a crush on you."
"Mom. It's probably from XX." She rolls her eyes and reaches into the gift bag, pulls out a paper that says: "The big question." She opens the paper and reads, "Will you go to the dance with me?" XX
"See, I told you," she says, "It's from XX. Of course I'll go with him. He's my boyfriend. But I won't ride there with him. I'll just meet him there."
"Oh okay, good." I adjust the exposure, hit save, click over to answer text, check spelling of lugubrious, while she reaches into the bag again and holds up a ring box, shakes it. "Uh, Mom?"
Now she has my attention.

Sure, it's sweet. I remember getting all kinds of love letters in elementary school-
from Mike and Ricky and Joe. They were stuffed in my coat pocket, or slipped in my books. Sometimes thrown at my head during reading. I kept them for years. Some of the best ones were the hate-love ones. Much more passionate. I got gifts too. Some of them my mother made me give back, because they looked too expensive, as if the boy borrowed something from his mother's jewelry box and re-gifted it. To me. The girlfriend. And if his friends had known they would have beat the shit out of him and called him a pussy.
But for these kids, it's much more mature.

My daughter has been exchanging birthday and holiday gifts with this boy for 2 years and the boy before him, for another 2 years. Remember. She is only 10. the boys get their parents to drive to the house, where they ring the bell, have to deal with the husband's glare, shove the jewelry/stuffed animal/candy at my daughter and run down the driveway to the idling car.
I know both boys and like them. She does have my taste in men, after all. They are both smart and athletic and the most handsome in her age bracket.. the 10-11 age bracket.

Yeah. I should be worried.

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