Childrearing

The Pre-Teen Dating Scene: A Catalogue Of Dates I Went On With Boys And Their Moms

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Brandon, Age 13

I met a family friend’s acquaintance at a dinner party, and she found me to be captivating, as some moms do. Not all moms. I wouldn’t say I have a way with moms. But she found my precocious nature and budding feminism to be charming, and thought I’d be a “good influence” on her son, Brandon. Red flag number one. She and her son had apparently just moved to LA, and she wanted to know if I’d take him out and show him a good time. Being 13 and desperate for male attention, I readily agreed, intrigued by her description of him as “unique.” Red flag number two.

Things moved fast, as these things are wont to do. Pre-teens have an attention span of a Vine, so this woman was eager to get her son in there before I moved on. Two days later, he got dropped off at my house, and my dad drove Brandon, me, and two of my friends to the mall for a movie date. We started with a food court dinner with my father, and then my dad went to amuse himself in the bookstore while the four of us milled around, going into the scented candle store and trying out the massage chair at Brookstone’s. I found that I was not attracted to him at all, because he was a misogynist-in-training, inarticulate asshat. I found his personality to be so offensive that I wanted to make sure he know how awful he was, which is to say I bullied him by trying to be very impressive.

In order to impress him and show how much cooler than him I was, I used my new arsenal of buzz words from my English class at my progressive middle school, and passionately debated whether or not video games lead to violence (“um, no, did you see Marilyn Manson’s interview on the subject from like three years ago? Columbine.”). I guess it worked because he held my hand throughout the movie, which upset me greatly. I made a big show of removing my hand to grab my friend’s watch to check the time, and then sat on my hands for the rest of the movie. This was a great plan, except my hands fell asleep, and as we were leaving, my friend handed me her soda, which I promptly dropped. So there I was with wet pants, two giggling friends, a guy trying to hold my hand, and strong opinions about social issues that I wanted to talk about. My friends were picked up at the mall, so Brandon and I went back to my house where we were inexplicably left alone. He kissed me hard on the corner of my mouth, either missing due to ineptitude or because I moved away–the memory is slightly foggy by this point. All jokes aside, that was the first time I understood the concept of having my boundaries crossed, even if it was just kissing. I was acutely aware of not feeling ready and not wanting to be touched by just anyone, and for the first time as a dumb kid who self-identified as “mature,” I felt very, very young.

Benny, Age 13

Benny and I had been best friends for most of elementary school, but things turned romantic one afternoon over AIM during a discussion of Elliott Smith. I had spent a lot of time in his house in the past and knew his parents well, but heading to his house later that day was markedly different. I knew that romantic things were in store, especially since he told me that his mom was getting a massage and would be indisposed for over an hour. Benny and I spent some time in his hammock, discussing our big plans for the future–to go to college on the East Coast, to live in a giant house with secret passageways, and to be writers. Just as we finished mashing our faces together directionlessly and artlessly, his massaged mom popped her head into the backyard to see if we wanted any snacks. He said “no” and I said “yes” at the exact same moment. I always want snacks. With his mom in the kitchen heating up some Bagel Bites, we made out some more and then he whispered in my ear, “I think I might be gay.” His mom came back. It was Bagel Bites time.


Now that I’m a pseudo grown up and occasionally think ahead to what my life will be like as a mother, I wonder what it must have been like for the moms present on pre-teen dates. I’d imagine the parents involved (I’m sure dads supervise their fair share, too) have to strike a careful balance between keeping a watchful eye, respecting privacy, and not dying of second hand embarrassment from watching two inept children trying to entrance each other with their wiles. I can’t begin to imagine how I’ll handle the day when I need to supervise a pre-teen date, but I hope it will include a talk about boundaries with my kid beforehand, some safe distance to let him or her try out the whole courting thing, and Bagel Bites. I still can’t resist a good snack.

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