When you read about young love in books you automatically root for the characters to find their happy ending. Writing about it brings back the nostalgia of teen angst and the vivid feelings of elation and crushing heartbreak over that first big crush. As an adult you feel confident that all of those memories and struggles are a thing of the past. From your mature perspective you can look back on all those times and smile, maybe even chuckle over the melodrama and uncertainty of the very young.
Then the unspeakable happens. Your child grows into a teenager and you get to navigate the murky waters of youthful infatuation and first love all over again. This time, from the adult perspective of knowing what is in store for those very people you were put on the earth to protect. Suddenly having a mature perspective isn't so great anymore. How did this happen you wonder. Where did all my hard won self-assurance go? Who is this stranger that is claiming to be my child and where did the real one go? And when did said child get so tall anyway. Frantically you run to a mirror or any full length reflective surface to see if you are shrinking and haven't realized it. Even worse your child is confiding in you that someone really likes them. That this stranger that has entered your soon to be teen's life feels like they might even be in love. WHAT?
The romantic heart inside you feels a momentary sense of giddiness at remembering what this feels like. The parent part of you wants to run shrieking from the room or cry on the nearest shoulder with the realization that your baby has taken another step away from you.
Suddenly, you question your gut instincts on the advice you should give them. You replay conversations over again in your mind and wonder if you are being too protective or not protective enough. All the while you must mask your indecision and put on a calm and serene face for the child in question. After all, you've done all this before yourself. Your adolescent might think it was eons ago but you remember all the raw emotion and past mistakes of you and your friends like it happened just last year. It helps in situations like this to talk to someone else about it. In my case that is not my husband. Doting father that he is he is in deep denial that this could ever happen so soon. If left to his own devices our child would be permanently cloistered to her room until she was thirty. This is why I feel very blessed to have two sisters and a mom. All of whom feel that this situation is sweet and even somewhat amusing. Following my mother's wisdom I have been keeping an open line of communication going, trusting the good judgement my child has demonstrated so far, and made the boundaries lines very clear. Yes, I understand what they are going through. I like the person they are infatuated with. No they cannot date anyone until they are at least fifteen no matter how nice said love interest is. I am sure that the person who likes my child must feel I am a little bit like the evil queen in a fairy tale keeping the princess locked away for an unreasonable length of time.
I am fine with that for now. Do I want my child's special friend to like me and see me in a more positive light? Of course I do. Nobody likes to feel like a heel standing in the way of true love. But from the standpoint of a parent, I know my own child isn't ready for all of that quite yet. While my baby may be almost as tall as me and be more and more grown up everyday, they still like to play with their toys and watch cartoons like "Ever After High" on Netflix. And said young person still has a few months to go before they are officially a teen. Secretly, I think my oldest child is a little relieved to have mom and dad as a safety net. Much as they look forward to being able to drive and go out on dates in the future, I think they know they aren't completely done being a child just yet.
So, quelling my over active imagination and the impulsive romantic side of my nature, I am remaining calm and trusting my motherly instincts. I think I've been fairly successful at not letting my inner teen run amok and over react to things. I haven't given into melodrama either. All in all I'm navigating the murky waters of first infatuation the second time around pretty well.