Prevention is better than cure. Knowing this, I go to great pains to advise all prospective mates of my children of the ground rules. The HerMelness ‘Rules of Enragement’ if you will. In the interests of clarity and to avoid ‘a misunderstanding’, I have also been known to provide lists for those of The Gibberish Generation (teenagers) who can read and, for those in the other camp, I am happy to provide pictures (a la ‘The Boy Whisperer’).
But what do you do when, far from getting the worst you are expecting, or at least preparing for, you are confronted with the very best?
One of my daughters brought home ‘the boyfriend’ (the very first) for inspection a few months ago. (Just when you are settling down to a routine in life, The Gibberish Generation find ways to upset your equilibrium.) I was further flummoxed because she approached the whole thing properly and maturely. Something else we insist upon but rarely get at this … er … tender age. Yes, let’s put it that way rather than this ‘dumbass age’. Much more genteel.
“How much do you want?”
“Mum, I’m just calling to say hello, and …”
“… would it be okay if I brought someone home this weekend to meet you and Child No. 4?” (her brother). “He’s someone who is important to me so I thought you should meet him.”
Now, here’s the thing. If she had gone about this introduction the wrong way (ie: I find out from the school board, her snitching little brother, or some woman in the school yard that my child is running around town doing ‘wot-ever’), I would have known exactly what to say to her. A script we all have and dust off frequently:
“What have I told you about approaching me in an open and honest way? Not leave me to find things out like you are some street urchin raised by wharf rats and who doesn’t know better?” [Substitute your own pet and crazed parent analogies here.]
Instead, on this occasion, my mind scrabbled for a script I didn’t have. The script when they do exactly as you ask. The script where they do things properly.
I remember mumbling something along the lines of “Uh huh.” and “How are your studies going?” while my mind was saying:
“OH MY GOD. I’M NOT READY TO MEET MY BABY GIRL’S FIRST ‘BOYFRIEND’. I CAN’T COPE. QUICK, HIDE.”
The other thing I was unprepared for was to actually like the person she brought through my front door. Her young man was (seemingly) very polite, measured and with an obviously marked regard for my daughter. I say ‘seemingly’ because these dudes are crafty. They come in ‘mom disguise’ like Ninjas, but what they can’t know is I trained those Ninjas so there isn’t much going to get past me.
I remember being staggered over the weekend that this man-child naturally and organically waited for me to be seated at the dining table before he sat down. Did not pick up his knife and fork or start eating before his hostess had started. What???? Someone pinch me.
Since ‘character is something we do in the dark’ (can’t remember who said that), I did try to catch him out to no avail. It seemed these manners were ingrained. (Big shout-out to his parents.)
So, when there was a hint of my daughter breaking up with this young man, I was aghast.
I wanted to shout.
“Let’s keep him. I’ve got used to this one and I don’t want to roll the dice on what the next one will be like. “PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME GO THROUGH IT ALL AGAIN.”
A reaction which surprised me, and another situation for which I had no pat response.
What have I learnt?
Well, that in continually urging our children to ‘come right’, as my Grandmother used to say, let’s ensure we have appropriate scripts in store for when they do. Give young people the benefit of the doubt sometimes and actively prepare for the best. That is what I’ve learnt.
HMS HerMelness Speaks (aka Ninja Warrior Extraordinaire)
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