Well, it’s happened: my oldest daughter has come of dating age. I’m struggling with it more than I did when her older brother reached this milestone. Maybe because he didn’t do much casual dating; his first serious girlfriend was a year and a half older and a Freshman in college. The girlfriend was responsible and intelligent and a couple of hours away for most of their relationship. Number One son is now successfully graduated from high school and enlisted in the US Army with nary a pulverized-to-bits broken heart, STD or offspring to his name and I can’t help feeling like we came through those first dating years unscathed. But now comes my first born baby girl and I’m a mess.
I’ve decided that it would help not only my sanity but also my daughter when screening potential dates if I were to hammer out a list of FIVE RULES FOR DATING MY TEENAGE DAUGHTER.
1. I will meet you face-to-face and WE WILL have a conversation that may or may not make you varying degrees of uncomfortable. I will ask questions like:
a.) Who are your parents?
b.) Where do you go to school/church? (You won’t be penalized for these particular answers provided that you are, in fact, in school somewhere and not a Scientologist.)
c.) Do you/ have you ever used drugs or alcohol?
d.) What did you score on your driver’s test?
e.) What is your LATEST ACT score? (Yes, you will have needed to make more than one attempt at the ACT. How else am I to gauge your commitment to attending a college or university?)
f.) What was the last novel you read? (Extra points if it happens to have been mine—in which case you will be grilled extensively about the characters, plot and themes of the book, just to make sure.)
g.) If you could be a bat or a ball which would you be and why? (I have no idea what this question is even supposed to ascertain, but I was asked it in an interview for a bank teller job when I was 19 and I’ve never been able to get it out of my head. If Compass Bank wants to know, so do I.)
2. No tattoos.***
If you’re dating my teenage daughter, I can assume that you yourself are also a teenager. That being established, being tatted up and having made that LIFETIME commitment as a minor makes me question your ability to exercise good judgment.
***Exceptions may be made for a single memorial tattoo of your Dearly Departed Momma provided said tattoo is:
a.) of professional quality
b.) in good taste
c.) your Momma is actually deceased (If you are a minor and have a tribute tattoo to your mother who is alive and well somewhere, then you may have issues that preclude you from being a good match for my daughter. Just sayin’.)
3. No offspring.
And I mean EVERYTHING from children to unexplained rashes.
4. You will be required early in your dating relationship to meet my mother.
The Princess & Her Mammy
When you date one of my children, you’re basically dating his/her ENTIRE family. We are a package deal with no real respect for personal boundaries. You will not outsmart Mammy. She is the Boss of Foolishment and can sniff it out a mile away. She’s a bail bondswoman ala Dog the Bounty Hunter style. You CANNOT hide from Mammy. She will find you and bust down your door armed to the teeth with wild hair and pepper spray.
5. You will need to be respectful and mannerly AT ALL TIMES.
This goes for how you treat and address my daughter, me, Mammy, the wait staff at the restaurant where you dine, and the guy who takes your ticket at the movie theatre. Manners matter, buddy. Remember that I’m watching. And so is Mammy with her pepper spray.
If I tell you she’s to be home at 10 p.m., then by gosh she’d better be home at 10 p.m. no matter what kind of mountains you have to move to make that happen. I won’t care that your “movie ran over”, you’re “out of gas”, or you need to “make a stop somewhere” and therefore “she’ll be a little late getting home.” Punctuality is a sign of respect and you will respect me and my daughter’s curfew.
So, that’s it. Five rules I believe the Princess and her potential suitors can live with. I trust my daughter, who has shown me that she’s a responsible young woman capable of good decision making, and I hope to trust any young man that not only understands my need for a list, but happily submits himself to it. As long as he can also produce those ACT scores and maybe his CARFAX while he’s at it.