There are these "Rules for Dating my Daughter" thingies that pop up occasionally on Facebook or other places on the internet. (Are there other places on the internet? I mean, other than Facebook, imdb, and this blog? I wouldn't know.) They are usually accompanied by a picture of a father holding a shotgun and involve a lot of talk about killing, shooting, maiming, and otherwise destroying the potential suitor. I get that fathers are supposed to be protective of their daughters and that, overall, these things are supposed to be funny in some way. I don't find them terribly funny and I am wondering why that is. I like to think that I have a pretty good sense of humor, but these things don't even get me to crack a smile. It could be because I am a mother and when mothers are presented as protective, we are presented as OVER-protective; naggy, complainy, and otherwise seeking to tie our children to our apron strings. Now, that does make me laugh; me, wearing an apron.
Many things disturb me about these "rules." I could write a whole blog post about why daughters are being presented as such fragile creatures, who seemingly lack any ability to defend themselves, chose boyfriends who aren't losers, and show the moderately good sense that you have infused in them since the day they were born. I could write another blog post pondering why these "rules" are always aimed at men, rather then the young teenage boys these girls are more likely dating; if a full-on man comes a' calling for your teenage girl, then, by all means, pull out your shotgun and call the police. But usually, her date is most likely a boy her age, with all of her "experience," possessing that aforementioned sense, and just as nervous/excited about dating as she is. Yes, there are predators and jerks that develop their predatory nature and jerkness during puberty, along with pimples and unseemly amounts of body hair, but I would like to think that most teenage boys are just as confused and scared as their female counterparts. I could also explore the fact that these "rules" seem to ignore the fact that one's daughter may be batting for the other team, as it were, and not be interested in boys as all. But I will leave that power-keg for another post.
No, the aspect of all of this that bothers me the most is the complete denial that young teen boys might need a little protection as well. (And no, that was not the type of protection that I meant, you guys.) I think it might be because I had boys first and that those boys are still tiny and little and look like babies when they sleep. I read these rules and I think "would I want some father waving a gun in their faces, just because they want to spend time with their daughters?" I think about Awesome Preschooler and Super Preschooler and their plan to marry someday. I think about how I would feel if the Awesome Parents presented Super P. with a list of rules that somehow indicates that what they think of him is that he is dead-set on hurting, using, and eventually leaving the girl that he has known and loved since they were both in diapers. I think about why there are different sets of rules for the genders. I think about how there are plenty of girls who are perfectly capable of hurting, using, and eventually leaving. I think about Super Baby; her intelligent and laughing eyes, her massive personality, and her lightening fast right hook. I think about how she would feel if we attempted to treat her like she was an object for her father and her potential date to feud over. That thought makes me sad and a little scared; seriously, her right hook is deadly. I think about many things, but mostly about how my children are such unique, beautiful individuals who could never be reduced to the mere role of aggressor or victim. And how I trust that they will pick partners who are equally unique and beautiful. And if they don't, well, I suppose I could buy a shotgun.....
Long story short...OK, well, less long then...is that I have created a list for anyone dating anyone under my roof. My children included:
1. You will be dressed at all times. Obviously, the pool and/or lake are exceptions, but as we don't have either of those here; clothes on.
2. You are totally welcome to hold hands and hug each other around me. Back-rubs are a gray zone and we'll figure that one out in the moment. As for kissing; close-mouth, no longer than 5 seconds. Just think of me like the Hollywood Hays Code.
3. As for anything else physical, ick, no, I do NOT want to see that, and you really ought to think about whether or not you should be doing it in the first place. Your age should directly relate to what base you are on; first base is fine for late middle school and on, as long as it still means what it meant when I was in late middle school and on. You better be in high school and getting good grades if you are on second base. Stay away from third until your SATS and college applications are finished. And don't even think about "going home" in my home. Or anyone's car, for that matter. Respect yourself. Respect each other. And respect my house. If I walk in on something that shouldn't be going on, that door is coming off the hinges.
4. Yes, I will allow you in your room with the door closed. I trust you. However, everyone in this house shares rooms and I will not restrict your siblings from going in there. And if you are smart, you should consider all of your siblings as potential spies. I am like Big Brother, I have eyes everywhere.
5. I want to meet the parents. If they are weird or Perfect Parents, I won't hold it against you or your date. I may gossip about them to Awkward Dad or my friends though; fair warning.
6. None of you that are mine have cars unless you have somehow bought them yourselves; you all know that, as Awkward Dad and I settled that before you were born. Those of you that aren't mine, you need to have insurance, functional windows (a plastic sheet with Duct Tape won't do), parental permission to drive, and normal decals in your windows. Mudflap naked ladies are not allowed. Nor is Calvin peeing on anything.
7. If you want to break up with each other, that is cool. It is your life; I won't tell you to hurry up or that you are making a big mistake. Even if either is true. I will however provide you with endless chocolate ice cream and a place to cry while it is all going on.
8. Please break up if you are tempted to cheat on each other. Life is too short for that level of drama.
9. You will not wait on the street corner for your date; they can pick you up at the house. Yes, parents are embarrassing; get over it. Besides, if you try to wait outside, then I will do something really embarrassing.
10. We do NOT call each other names in this house; joking or otherwise.
11. No one hits anyone. Ever.
12. I know that all of you have a lot of confusing feelings and mixed-up thoughts right now. Believe it or not, I was a teenager once too. You are going to make mistakes, some more serious than others. Please tell me when you get into trouble or do something dumb. I mean, I don't need the blow by blow, but keep me informed.
13. This one is just for my children: I will bail you out of jail. I will pick you up in the middle of the night. I will accept grandchildren before I am ready. That there will be large amounts of consequences for these actions goes without saying, but I will always love you. Always.
14. For those of you who aren't my children: I hope that your parents feel the same, but I can't make them. However, if my child loves you and you are good to him/her, I will grow to love you and protect you as well.
15. If I hear Barry White, or whoever is Barry White in 2023, coming from your room, I am busting that door down. Come on, don't be so obvious.
We reserve the right to alter and add to this list as the Supers actually become teenagers and we know exactly what we are working with. Or we could just let Super Toddler answer the door at all times; that should scare off anyone unworthy:
Robot/gun trumps plain ol' shotgun anyday.