My daughter’s blog today is about my granddaughter holding hands…with a boy. My granddaughter is in the eighth grade, a pivotal age for the whole “boy/girl” thing. I chuckled as I read about my daughter’s reaction, but I don’t miss those days with my own girls. The angst! The hormones! The tears! Ugh!
Of course I had a boyfriend when I was in the eighth grade. He was short and cute and had dark wavy hair. His name was Tom. He was already in high school, and like all good fathers, my dad instantly distrusted him because he was “older”. It didn’t matter that the difference in our ages could be measured in mere months. It was the concept of the older therefore more experienced guy that kept my dad awake at night. Oh, the angst! The hormones! The tears! It didn’t matter that the kid was a neighbor or that his mother was the school secretary. And it didn’t matter that neither of us could drive. My mom dropped us off at the movies or we went to parties with mutual friends from the neighborhood. All that mattered to Dad was that he was a boy.
We “dated” for most of the summer before I went to high school. I wore his ring. He came over for dinner. We went to a few movies. We hung out at the local pool with friends. When school started we got to see each other on campus. I met some of his buddies. We ate lunch together. Then a few months later the world came to an end and we moved. Story of my life.
I had actually been through it all before. His name was Bobby.
Bobby was my first boyfriend. We were in the fifth grade together and he lived down the street. His parents owned a grocery store and lived above it. We lived behind a bar. Bobby walked me home and carried my books. It was no small feat since I was quite the diligent student and loved to bring home extra work. We also lived two miles from school! That Bobby was loyal and sweet and strong. I still have the Valentine he gave me. ‘Course I also have deep emotional scars because I got sent to the principal for the very first time because of Bobby! He was flirting with an older girl and she was mean to me and I wrote her a mean note and called her a “good for nothing gold digger” and I got sent to the principal and cried all the way home. I told you- angst, hormones, tears. The stuff of relationships.
There were lots more boys- some funny, some cute, some stupid. There were a few good men. Then a husband/divorce. Then my wonderful Gary and thirty-four years of a satisfying marriage. I presume most women look back on at least some of the relationships they’ve had and ask “WHAT WAS I THINKING??” And the answer I suppose is that we weren’t thinking, we were feeling. We were experiencing. We were growing. That’s what relationships are all about. That’s why eighth grade romances are so poignant. Women recognize that first crush, that first reaching out, as the beginning of the road to discovery. The journey isn’t about boys. It’s about us. It’s about discovering who we are by looking in a mirror held by someone else. It’s about facing the challenge of being true to ourselves while meeting the expectations of someone else. It’s about finding that person who makes us happy.
Let’s face it. We want to be all noble about our relationships. We want to do the right thing and be the good person. We want to marry someone our family and friends approve of and our enemies envy. But when it gets right down to it, we choose the person who makes us HAPPY, and every other reason goes out the window. An elderly friend of mine is ecstatic because she has found a new relationship with a man in her assisted living complex. She never quite imagined being happy again and neither did he. The same thing happened to my great aunt. She married, for the third time, when she was in her eighties. It seemed silly to some friends and family members at the time, but he made her HAPPY.
I digress, as usual, but only slightly. I suppose in my own round about way I’m just coming to terms with my own reaction to the idea of my granddaughter holding hands with a boy. I wish my daughter luck in dealing with this new aspect of her daughter’s life. I’ll pray for her. This is only the beginning. I’ll laugh and cry with her. But I’ll also pray for my granddaughter. Pray that she has a pleasant journey on the road to womanhood. Not too much angst, hormones, or tears! Pray that she doesn’t make too many mistakes. Pray that she doesn’t have to kiss many toads before she finds the guy who makes her HAPPY. Pray that I live long enough to see her married to that wonderful man.
But for now, this guy she’s holding hands with…he’s just a boy. And he’d better behave himself!