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Monday, August 06, 2007

The first time I worried about the future romantic life of one of my children was when O, now 9 tears old and closer to an actual romance than I like to think about, was about two months old. He spent the first month of his life in the hospital, so by the time he got home, I spent a lot of time holding him and just staring at him. I guess that isn't all that uncommon in new parents. In fact, just to destroy any credibility I may have had as a rational, cool person, I'll admit to the time that my husband and I were lying on the bed, with O between us, staring at him and I (please stop me - this is so embarrassing) made the excruciating observation that our bodies formed a heart shape around little O (gag, puke, I know - but you had to be there!)

So anyhow, he was about two months old and my husband called in the middle of the day just to chat and wanted to know why I was weepy. It's a testament to his extreme bravery that he even asked, because you never know what you're in for when you ask someone why they're all emotional in the middle of the day. I burst into tears and explained that I had been staring at little O and thinking about how he would grow up so quickly. I was thinking about his learning to walk, losing his first tooth, making little friends in pre-school and having his first little crush. I think this is when I started tearing up. My heart swelled thinking about how he would like some cute little 12 year old girl and how sweet and funny and smart he would be. And how hard it would be for me to let go (in my defense, I'm not as bad as my friend L who claims that she has already screwed up her 6 month old son for good because she's been telling him since birth, "No woman will ever love you like I do," and she has no intention of stopping.) Then the thought crossed my mind that the little girl might not like him back. And that his heart would be broken. I imagined him coming home from school, his backpack dragging, and struggling to hold back tears because he'd been scorned by some...stupid little you know what. And I was filled with rage at the little brat who would reject my perfect son. I inwardly cursed her cruelty as I hugged sweet, innocent two month old O to my chest. It broke my heart to imagine how I would explain to him, if he even told me about her, that she was never good enough for him and that NO WOMAN WOULD EVER LOVE HIM LIKE I DID! Oops.

Flash forward a few years (nine to be exact) and O has become quite a fan of the ladies. He went to Yoga with my husband the other day and read a book in the lobby while A practiced. As an oldest child and avid reader myself, I understand what a great pleasure it would be to have an hour and a half of reading time with no little pests around to try to eat, rip or take the book. And the book was the long-awaited Harry Potter 7 (aka Harry Potter and the Deadly Something or Another), so he was way into it. But not so into it that he didn't notice the young, but about 15 years too old for him, and attractive woman at the desk.

A week later, I took the kids to the studio as A's class was ending (A's class let out as mine began, so we were meeting in the parking lot to hand off the children). We were a bit early, but I planned on waiting in the parking lot to avoid loading and unloading the masses. O kept saying maybe we should go in. I thought I was being a real comedian and said, "I know why you want to go in there. To chat up the ladies. She was pretty cute, wasn't she?" Now, before you think I'm a mean mommy, tormenting and humiliating my children and toying with their tender emotions for sport, please know that O loves this kind of teasing. I think it makes him feel sophisticated or something. He responded, with a much too cocky grin, "Yeah, maybe. But I'm not gonna' ask her on a date or anything." And, thus, the tables were turned. My intention had been to embarrass my son (in a fun way, I swear!) and the conversation had taken a dark turn. Suddenly, I was forced to acknowledge that dating was not as far in the future as I had hoped.

I asked O where he would take someone on a date and, in typical grandiose fashion, he said China "or a trip around the world or something." X, who is 6 years old and slightly less worldly, said he would take a lady to Ben and Jerry's and "we could walk, because it's good to walk on a date." I agree. And he has plans to buy a banana split on the date, to share. I hope his date appreciates his thriftiness and doesn't just think he's cheap.

On my parents' first date, to an out of town football game, they stopped at a diner on the way for lunch. As was customary back in olden times (like, the 60's), my father asked my mother what she wanted so he could order for her. She asked for a grilled cheese sandwich and a glass of milk. "You don't want milk," he said. Of course she did, and told him so. He told her milk was too expensive to order in a restaurant, when it could be purchased in a grocery store and enjoyed at home for so much less. She though he was joking (albeit not too suave-ly) and assumed she would have her milk. When the waitress returned, he ordered her a grilled cheese sandwich and...tea (or coke, she can't remember, maybe because she was in shock.) For some reason, she continued to date him, married him, had four children with him and eventually talked him into ordering milk in restaurants. I can tell it still bothers him though, just a little.

My own husband, on our second date, tried to talk the door guy at a local bar into letting us in two for the price of one, because we had missed the first part of the band's act. Thanks to his charm, it worked. And I realized that I had met the guy that was as thrifty and charming as dear old Dad. I was actually dating several people at the time, and A was the only one who didn't pay for dates; we split the tab every time. And I married him, forsaking all others. Must have been the charm.

I know my mother in law had (and has!) the same worries for her two sons that I have for mine. NO WOMAN WILL EVER LOVE THEM LIKE SHE DOES. In her case, no woman will ever be French enough or a good enough cook either, but there isn't a thing I or my sister in law can do about that. The fact is, no woman will ever love a man like his mother does, but given how overprotective many of us are, that's probably a good thing (as my husband like to say, his mother puts the "mother" in "smother"). But if the ladies don't get the charm, wit and general perfection of my sons, it'll still break my heart.

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