My fifteen-year-old daughter figured it out today: she is in love for the very first time.
This is about the third young man she's brought home since last summer. Thing One, the younger son of my best friend, is handsome, brilliant, and has a car and his own band. She was dazzled that a guy so amazingly talented and cute would be interested in her. But she gave him the gate after a couple months. “He didn't go out of his way for me. It's all about him, and I didn't ever once feel special.”
Thing Two came along a few months later. He was closer to her own age —blond, preppy, dimpled, and heading for a glorious career as a politician. We liked him, too: he was great company at the family dinner table. But he didn't last long, either. “Too much energy,” she said. “It's exhausting, like having a puppy around. He's just too eager all the time. He'll grow out of it someday—but I don't want to wait around for it.” I understood, completely.
One night after school, Thing Two dragged along his best friend, K, over for dinner. “What's the story with him?” I asked my daughter. Compared to Thing Two, K was quiet, intense, and extremely confident. There was something about this boy that was deep and special. Not only did he have whole lot of soul for a kid of just 15; there was also a quiet confidence in his bearing that this old wife recognized as the seed of a very special kind of man. “He's got a black belt in tae kwon do. He's the best writer in the class—his ideas are different, and he thinks for himself. When K talks, he's always got something to say. And he's never had a girlfriend, because he's looking for a real relationship, not just messing around.”
That was a month ago. Three guesses which guy finally caught the heart of our girl.
They went out on their first Real Date last night. (”We were talking last week, and I told K I thought we'd be good together,” she said. ”He just said: that would make him very, very happy—like he'd been waiting for me to realize it all along. And that was it.”) Today, she was chirping and burbling around the house all day (note that my long, cool drink of water does not chirp or burble—not ever).
”Mom, he's just exactly like (her stepfather)! I always feel so safe and taken care of when he's around—like I'm special to him, and he'd do anything to take care of me. He gives me his coat when I'm cold. He opens my doors. He pays for things. We had to wait at the bus coming home, and I felt totally protected. When we're together, he's completely focused on me. And he's got so much self-respect—I know he won't let me push him around. He's not like the other guys at all: I just feel like I can trust him with anything.”
Evidently, somewhere in the mountains between Vancouver and Whistler, they're still turning out young men who know (appropriately) how to take a young lady in hand. Who knew?
And my daughter, apparently, has not only found one—she had the great good sense to recognize that what he offered was something worth having.
Yeah, it's a first love. Looks like it's going to be a pretty solid and intense one, though, for however long it lasts. What strikes me, though, is the way she consciously set out to find someone who would give her what she'd seen at home—a boy who would make her feel as precious, protected, adored, and comfortable as her stepfather makes me (and her, too). She wasn't happy until she found a young man who could give her that same gentle leadership, along with that same encircling care.
I've been wondering for a while if, how, and when I'd broach the subject of our unusual marriage with my kids. Turns out we were teaching this stuff all along, without even saying a word.