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Rules of dating

Rules of dating

February 15, 2007

My second born son will be turning 11 at the end of the month.

Yesterday he called his girlfriend to wish her a Happy Valentine’s Day. Yes, that is right I said girlfriend. Hold me.

I have discovered long forgotten truths about dating in the preteen world, which differs vastly from the grown-up world.

Rules for being a girlfriend or boyfriend at 11 years old:

1) You do not actually go anywhere together.

2) You do not make eye contact with each other.

2a) If you happen to make eye contact with each other accidentally you will avert your eyes and quickly run away to the other side of the room.

3) You will not speak directly to each other in public.

3a) You may talk occassionally on the phone, but you will not mention these phone calls in person.

3b) If you are in a group you may talk to everyone else in the group, except for your boyfriend/girlfriend.

4) If you have something to tell the other person, you will tell their friend who will relay the message to them. No matter what the message, “I like your shirt.” “You have a big booger hanging off your nose.” “Want to sit next to me?” you will shrug noncommitally and act like it is no big deal.

5) The amount you ignore the person is directly proportional to how much you like them.

If you saw my son and his “girlfriend” in public together, you wouldn’t realize that they even knew each other.

I know one day I will look back at this and wish I could turn the clock back to this simpler time in his life. A time before he has been hurt by a girl. A time before he guarded his heart a little more closely. A time before he became cynical and jaded about love.

But for now I can’t help but feel protective. I want to grab the little 70 pound girl in the girl’s bathroom, push her up against the sinks, and tell her, “Hurt my son and I’ll hurt you.” I want to, but I won’t.

Instead I watch from a distance, holding my breath a little. This is what they don’t tell you when you bring that baby home from the hospital. That for the rest of their life, every pain they feel you will feel also, sometimes more acutely than they feel it.

And I have seven children. No wonder I need drugs.

Posted by Chris @ 10:39 am  

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  1. Sara says:

    I’ve already told my husband “woe to any girl who breaks our son(s) heart(s).” He says he has the boys who cause heartbreak to our daughters covered. It’s a tag-team effort. Please share the drugs.

  2. Lori says:

    I still remember how incredibly sad I felt for my son the first time he came home with a broken heart. It is an intense pain to watch your child hurt like that. Hopefully there’ll be many more happy days before any of your boys have a broken heart!

  3. Jess says:

    DS#1 is 11 and has a photo of his girlfriend in his folder. He whorships her from afair, she perfers the hands on approach and sends him love notes daily. She even draws him sweet little pictures. Makes. Me. Want. To. Hurl. I am not ready for tween love.

  4. Karly says:

    Oh.My.God. Girlfriends? I’d be on drugs too! In fact, send drugs now…just the thought of it is killin’ me.

  5. Jordana says:

    I am sooooo not ready to think of such things. Our architect friend was suggesting we consider a dressing table in the bathroom we’re expanding upstairs for the kids because “someone might need to put on makeup.” I think I almost fainted at the thought.

  6. Jodi@OC says:

    Thankfully my 11 year old is just starting to notice the boys. I am not ready for pre-teen love either.

    We jokingly tell our kids they can date when they are married. :)

  7. Kai says:

    Oh how I wish we could go back to those days….when being ignored meant he loved you and there were no arguments about whose job it is to take out the trash.

    I’m impressed he called and wished her a Happy Valentines Day, there are men three times his age who wouldn’t remember to do that! You raised him right!

  8. Julie @ Telluride says:

    Reading this made me tear up. My 8 year old has a crush on a girl in his class. He made her a homemade valentime and spent no less than an hour on it. I asked him if she liked it and he just shrugged. How will I ever handle it whe he gets a little older and gets his precious heart broken??

  9. bgirl says:

    Beautifully (and, as always, hilariously) written. Even my six-year-old has started the “crushes.” sigh.

  10. Jeanne says:

    One of my baby boys (now 15) cried all day over his first broken heart. He was 12. You’ll cry too, I did when he did. I’m telling you, Xanaxies are the perfect accompaniment to Lexies.

  11. Amyjane says:

    Back when I taught sixth grade, the kids at our school had worked out an interesting method. When you liked a girl/guy all you had to do was write thier name on your shoe with Sharpie marker and go out to recess. If by the next recess they had reciprocated by writing your name on their shoe, you were “going.” No contact necessary! Then, when you were ready to break up, you let your significant other know by scribbling their name out and/or replacing your shoes. The only way I found out was when I casually asked the super star sports boy in my class why his shoes were covered in marker…what a player!

  12. Tal says:

    Sigh. That was a great post.

  13. Annie says:

    My nine year old son exchanged “appreciations” with all of his classmates yesterday. Then they were allowed to write one letter to the person of their choice. He sent and came home with his first love letter. He professed his love at dinner, “I love Maya.” (His six year old brother looked on in horror…”jeez, you must be so embarrassed to be talking like that.” Four year old sister started mocking him with the kissing in a tree song.) He was unfazed by it all, clearly having tasted of something of which they were not yet familiar. The look on his face of pure unbridled love/joy just crushed me and my husband…knowing that one day he’ll have to experience the heartbreak of it all. For now I’m happy for him that he expresses and shares his joy so openly…I know I wasn’t doing that when I was nine. BTW, when I woke him up this morning, “I love Maya,” were the first words out of his mouth. I hope he can concentrate at school today.

  14. Ashley says:

    Great post. I feel all their pains too. My 11 and 12 year olds are girls, so we deal more with “mean girl” drama. They can be brutal. I’ll spend all day milling around, trying to come up with some cool comeback that will suffice. But I’m still a dork and all I end up with is something like “Yeah…Yeah…Yeah….your mom.”

  15. jody2ms says:

    Awww! That is just way too adorable.

  16. Mama T. says:

    Hubby is NOT looking forward to the 9 year old having anything to do with boys and “love”. She still swoons over movies like Cinderella III.

  17. meredith says:

    That takes me back to my first “love” when I was twelve. We “went” together for two years but hardly said a word to eachother :)

  18. Jennifer says:

    He’s got a girlfriend? Darn. After that last picture you posted I was going to wait seven years and then see if he’d give me a chance.

    Hopefully they’ll have broken up by the time he’s of age.

  19. Rebel says:

    My 13 year old son got his heart broken a few months ago. He cried for days, got really depressed, and ending up seeing a psychologist. I was ready to strangle the girl…still don’t care for her much.

  20. Nohe 5 says:

    This is just too cute. I remember asking the question, “Do you like him or do you like like him?” Ah, for love to be that simple and exciting again.

  21. InterstellarLass says:

    My son has a crush on a girl. He barely knows her, and has only been introduced once. When I ask why he doesn’t even say hi to her, he just shrugs, grins a silly grin and gets all red. Ah ‘tween love.

  22. Kristie says:

    My oldest daughter turned ten this week and I did an entire post about where the hell has the time gone …. and can I get any of it back? Then yesterday, her “boyfriend” (who I had no idea was her boyfriend, btw) gave her a stuffed teddy bear and a hand-made Vanentine card with “I love you” written on it. I smiled on the outside and made the appropriate noises, but inside? I died. A lot.

  23. Esmerelda says:

    {GASP!} I couldn’t imagine…I’m not kidding…11 is only four years way!

  24. Kellie says:

    I am a huge fan! This post is the perfect example as to why I love your blog so much. You put things into perfect perspective.

  25. khristalee says:

    pre-teen love is just a stepping stone for teen angst! i remember all too well, not talking to my gr. 6 b/f, the whole year! We broke up because I started talking to him by the end of the year! is this the beginnings of playing hard to get? even when my heart got broken, i always went back for more, i know it is scary watching your children grow up, but hopefully you turned out okay right?

  26. Nicki says:

    Reminds me of my first “serious” boyfriend at age12/13. We lived 2 hours apart and did a lot of letter writing. I hate to mention this but when we where in the same town, we also did a lot of kissing. He was pretty good at it for a 12 years old…

  27. Sleeping Mommy says:

    Ah yes… Do they still call it “Going to with” someone? They did in my day. But you never really went anywhere…

  28. peepnroosmom says:

    Oh my gosh. Peep just came home yesterday with a girlfriend. He got his friend to “ask her out” for him. She told the friend yes so now they are “going out.” I don’t think they have talked to each other yet. So funny. But last night he was telling me that he loved her. I thought my heart would break in to pieces. So far I am the only girl he has ever loved. I wanted to forbid him from ever speaking to her again, but I didn’t. I know teenage love is far more hands on, literally. The girls today seem far more aggressive than when I was a kid. Scary. I am not looking forward to the teen dating scene, either. Give me a toddler any day.

  29. Mary W says:

    LOL , my 11 year old just broke up with his “girlfriend” because she actually wanted to go out - she’s British- I guess they don’t know the rules there.

    She chased him down and left notes for him everywhere. Then she broke up with him. She signed her name wirh hearts over the i’s.

    Whatever he says.

    Evil little tramp says I.

    I am also the mom that, when he went on his first camp out with Boy scouts laid awake at night worrying that he would be alone and not make any friends and would be homesick and lonely. The thought made me cry.

    He had a blast and couldn’t wait for the next trip.

    I did cry.

  30. bluepaintred says:

    im not letting my kids date. ever. never never never NEVER.

    my oldest is seven. I think all birthdays will be calcled from this point on.


  31. anna says:

    My husband has nothing but pity for the girls our boys will bring home but I don’t know what on earth he is talking about….

  32. nabbalicious says:

    Oh, boy, do I NOT miss adolescent dating. And if I ever have a girl who is half as melodramatic as I was, I’m going to be needing some of your drugs!

  33. Kim says:

    Oh Chris, I feel your pain. My eldest is 14 and thankfully we haven’t dealt with the girls yet because he’s so painfully shy. I know that when the first actual girlfriend happens I’ll turn into a raving lunatic. My daughter, on the other hand, will have to warn the boys of my husband. I agree with one comment that said it’s a tag team effort.

  34. JoAnn says:

    I just have to tell you how much I love your blog!!! You can put into words what so many of us think and feel and do it with such humor. A very enviable trait!!! Thanks for the daily laughs:) My oldest daughter is 11 and thankfully not into this stuff yet. She seems to have a really good head on her shoulders- God I hope it stays that way! I’m so not looking forward to the angst. And what you said today- so right on!

  35. Lynn says:

    I’m sitting here with my almost 20-year-old on his way to visit his girlfriend who is ten hours away at college. A lot of years have passed since that first girl broke his heart in sixth grade, but I can still remember how it felt for someone to hurt my baby. Trust me, it will get worse before it gets better, but at the same time, it’s a great experience to see your child fall in love when the real thing happens.

  36. qtpies7 says:

    We tried the girlfriend thing with my oldest, and I forbid it now, we are promoting courtship, at least until the move out and it isn’t my choice anymore, lol.

  37. Maria says:

    Wait, this is the relationship of an 11 year old? It kinda sounds like the relationship I have with my husband, only we have our kids send messages back and forth instead of our friends. Ha.

  38. Brian Harte says:

    I remember my first “girlfriend” at the age of 10.

    We used to sit on her bed talking during the summer holidays. Every time she moved close to me I’d get up and moved around the room lol.

    She had braces too and I was scared of kissing her! Bless.


  39. Katy Myers says:

    I just ran onto your site and wanted to share my sons first love. He dated this girl for 2 years and they broke up when he was 17. We had 6 solid months of crying spells, misery and sometimes my fear to leave him alone. My daughter called me at work many times afraid for her brother and I would drive home at breakneck speed. The girl would call him about once a month to tell him about her new boyfriend but remind him she still loves him and we would be up for 2 or 3 nights with him crying about how much he loves her and wants to marry her one day……I was so glad when he finally got MAD at her….though he still mentions her often a year later

  40. stacey says:

    I found your blog while googling around looking for how to deal with my 11 year old and his new girlfriend. She’s 13! A young 13, but still! They’ve been “going out” since Superbowl, which mostly consists of phone calls and IMs. But this weekend he brought her to his school’s skating party and she came over afterwards to watch the Kids’ Choice Awards. We were all sitting on the couch—me included—and he kissed her on the lips right in front of me! I think it’s time for a little talk, eh?