Christina Currie: Dating games
December 19, 2008
Craig — My daughter is 8 years old. She’s in third grade.
You’ll find these to be extremely critical elements to the story that follows.
It started casually, amusingly even.
Katie handed me a folded note.
I opened the note and saw a picture of a large heart covered with the words “I love you. I love you. I love you.”
“Oh! Thanks, Katie. This is so sweet.”
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“It’s not for you. It’s for me,” she said.
Turns out the note was from Jake*, a boy in Katie’s class.
“He thinks I’m hot,” she told me.
She’s 8. What do I have to worry about?
I was tucking Katie in, whispering sweet words of goodnight.
“You’re so pretty, no wonder all the boys love you.”
I was being flippant, but children almost never pick up one those things.
“No they don’t! Justin* cheated on me!”
I asked, “What, exactly, constitutes cheating in third grade?”
She shrugged nonchalantly.
“Were you two ‘going out?'”
“No!” she shouted.
OK, so now I’m confused.
“He asked me to go out, and I said ‘no,'” she explained. “So he asked Sarah* out.”
That’s cheating? Interesting.
“Jake wants to kiss me,” Katie said.
I’m not ready for this.
“He said he was going to kiss me Monday, but he lied.”
“Did you want him to kiss you,” I asked.
It’s one of those questions that you don’t really want to know the answer to, but you have to ask anyway.
“He said he was going to kiss Sarah, too.”
This “going out” thing is complicated.
“Katie, first of all, you don’t want to kiss a boy who wants to kiss another girl. Second, you’re not old enough to be going out and third, you’re too young to be kissing,” I told her.
She nodded wisely and said, “I know, but I’m not too young to kiss my mother because I love her.” And she pulled me over to kiss my cheek.
It’s OK readers, I’ll wait while you sigh. :
So, I thought I handled that quite well. I was sure the subject was closed.
Someday, I’ll learn.
“Mom, what do you do when you’re going out with someone?”
I faced this question a few nights later when I thought I was well into the safe zone.
“Is there,” she asked, lowering her voice to a whisper, ” : I don’t want to say it. The S-E … word?”
“You mean sex?” I asked.
God, I wish I’d pretended I didn’t know what she was getting at.
“No. Yes. Sometimes. Never.” (I was a little flustered.) “Um : going out is complicated. It’s a lot of work. Sometimes it’s fun, but it means caring enough about another person that you want to be with them and talk to them and maybe even hold hands, but you don’t do it until you’re much older.”
“Do you have to have sex to have a baby?”
I took the simple route.
“But some people have sex, but don’t have babies, and how are babies made? I mean really, how? Do you start by kissing?”
I reminded her that we’ve already had this conversation and decided that she needs to be older to really understand.
“Katie, you’re not old enough to go out with a boy.”
“I know, maybe when I’m a teenager.”
I smiled, “we’ll discuss it then.”
She nodded, “yep, when I’m 10.”
That sealed it. We will not be discuss dating until she’s mastered math.
* Names have been changed to protect identities.