Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Dating Advice

Mark has recently started asking me for dating advice. Sunday night he spent two hours in my room talking to me in detail about how he could go about asking this girl for a date. I mean, he wanted to know how to phrase his phone call when he asked her out, right down to how he would know if it was okay to hold her hand, and at what point you can consider someone your girlfriend (that last one, I didn't really have a good answer for, although I did say that at his age, if you were holding hands, you probably could say it then).

We went over fairly detailed scenarios, including the possibility that her parents don't allow her to date yet. And how they might not like the idea of a total stranger showing up to pick up their daughter and cart her away for a few hours. (possible solution: asking if she would like to meet him at the movie theater) He wanted to know what to say to her when he was going out to get a refill on the popcorn they're sharing. (hint: tell her what you're doing and ask her if she wants anything)

Today he came home with the very happy news (to him) that there is another Y dance on Friday. This was where he met the girl, and also the only place he has ever seen her (at two dances). Now, if she is there, he is plotting (again, with my help) on how to get her phone number. (my helpful hint: ask if he can call her sometime....then ask for her number) (he said, "What if she says no?" answer: say "OK." "ohhhhhhhh," he replied. My gosh.)

This has been interesting to me on a bunch of different levels. One is that holy cow! My boy is old enough that he's thinking about dating! How the hell did I get this old? Another is just how interesting it is to see the inner workings of my son's brains, and his worries. And noticing how much he's like me, in trying to see all the different angles of something before he gets into it.

Another thing that I like is that this gives me yet another teachable moment for him; actually, a whole lot of them. There's the whole "girls are really people, not scary aliens" lesson, along with letting him see that many of other people's decisions that affect him are not necessarily going to have anything to *do* with him (she might say no to a date for a whole bunch of reasons that aren't a rejection of Mark personally...other scheduled plans, her parents won't let her date, etc). There's letting him see that there are sides to every relationship, and the need for consideration of "her side" (i.e. If you get her phone number, you then have to follow through and CALL HER, otherwise she will think it's a personal rejection of her, and how would you like that if it was you? So don't get her number if you aren't ready to call.) And, to remember to just be himself, and not pretend to be something he's not, because you want someone to like you for yourself.

Then there's just the practical advice of dating. Like, when you call her for a date, already have a specific plan in mind. Instead of saying "wanna go out sometime?", ask her "Would you like to go to a movie on Saturday and then get an ice cream?" (which is actually the planned activity we worked out for when he does get to the 'date' stage) There's, make sure you have enough money to pay for everything, plus a little extra, 'cause it's super embarrassing to run out of money. There's, you need to walk her to her door after the date is over, not just say "see ya" from the car. And, don't hog the armrest at the movie. You know, the basics.

What's really funny about all this (besides, hello, this is my KID asking me!), is that I'm not actually good at dating, myself. I haven't had a lot of experience in formal dating. Most of my past dating involved a lot of "what do you want to do?" "I dunno. What do *you* want to do?" for a couple of hours while we drove aimlessly around the rotary. (or making out somewhere. Which I am not going to tell him about. And he can't anyway 'cause he needs rides everywhere and that means an automatic chaperone. Although I did tell him that I'm not going to be staring at him while he walks her to the door. I also promised him I wouldn't sit near him during the movie. I'm not quite at the stage of just dropping them off at the movie alone for a couple of hours, though.)

Oh my. He obviously still needs help. He is now overplanning. I had recommended that he maybe have a scrap of paper in his pocket so he could write down her number. He just came downstairs and said that he has the paper ready, that on the other side of it he has written fake homework assignments so it doesn't look like he's *planned* to have a scrap of paper with him. He has crumpled this paper up and smoothed it back out so it looks used. He was asking me if he should ask Eddie to have a pencil in *his* pocket that Mark could then borrow. I said no. I said he could actually just go ask one of the chaperones for a pen. (and then he all obsessed about "what if they don't have one?" at which point I assured him that if they didn't, they would help him find one.)

I am now wondering if my son is going to grow up to be a stalker. Or a player. He has never been this prepared for anything in his LIFE. I must now go put my head down on my desk. mk

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