During story time at kindergarten today the teacher told Carson to move because Gabriel couldn’t see the pictures.
Gabriel’s hands flew to his eyes–“Arrgh! I can’t see! I’ve been blinded! I can’t see!”
“Are you like that all the time?” I asked him after he related the story.
“Yeah. Pretty much.”
I hesitate to tell this next story because it could be so easily misunderstood. It may sound fanatical or simply self-righteous.
Ben likes a girl(M); she likes him. Although they talk on the phone for hours every day, go skiing fairly often, and “hang-out” with their group of friends they have never been on a date or even been alone together. The Mormon standard is you date when you are 16. And if you don’t want your mom driving you on your first date that standard makes plenty of sense!
But coming up is the sweetheart dance at Skyline High– it’s girl’s pref. I warned Ben that he would have to figure this out early because girls think ahead! He came home last week and told me the dance will be on Feb. 2nd.
I know as well as anyone that Ben SHOULD have been born on Feb. 2nd, so I was inclined to bend the rule. But Erik disagreed. “What’s the standard?” Still, he was open to discussion.
So, because I am famously insecure and love to get lots of opinions I began polling my friends. Each person I talked to gave me the opposite opinion of the last: “of course he should go,” “no he shouldn’t.” I also found that I couldn’t possibly predict which way my friends would vote. Dances are one of the safest and most benign forms of dating(planned activities, big groups) and plenty of Mormon families are willing to make an exception for special occasions. And I’d like to make my disclaimer here and probably in twelve other places that I absolutely don’t judge anyone by their decisions— we all do what is best for our family.
After four conversations I realized I was being a geek and took it back home to Erik. “Fine. Let’s tell him how we feel and leave the decision up to him.”
We talked and Ben didn’t mention it again until Wednesday night. He was on the phone with M and went out on the front porch to wave at a car passing by.
“Who was that?” nosy mothers need to know.
“Oh that was M and her friend. They are out asking guys to girl’s pref.” His face tightened just a bit.
“So you talked to her?”
“Yeah. I told her I couldn’t go and that she should ask someone else. She shouldn’t miss out on fun things like this just because of me.” Gulp.
“But I don’t think I was prepared for how much it would hurt when she asked someone else.”
I truly just wanted to sit down and cry with him. I still do. I was 16 just yesterday(plus 22 years)and I know those are not small emotions.
“Don’t worry mom. I’m not mad at you. It was my own choice. And besides,” he grinned, “I knew I could talk you into it at any time.”
He wanted to be alone and for once in my life I was tactful and let him be.
But just twenty minutes later he was back swinging Gabe and Mary around, turning on loud music and instigating wild games with all the little ones.
“You OK, Ben?”
“Yeah, I was feeling pretty bad for myself and then I went and read your blog about Brenda. My problems are looking pretty small right now. At least I have my dad.”
Ben was the life of the party the rest of the night and of course I had to call Brenda and have a good cry.
I still feel a bit bad for Benj, but he and M were back to chatting away all day on the phone yesterday. Asking someone else to the dance was absolutely the right thing for M to do. A serious, exclusive relationship at 16 is certainly not a good idea. They like each other enough as it is!
Happily, Ben just set the standard for the rest of our kids; I won’t have to go out polling the neighborhood again (I know, I know that was tacky! But I promise I’m not judging anyone by their answers!). And Feb. 2nd is my birthday— the pressure is now on me to have a GREAT party this year ’cause Ben…. will be home.