My beloved firstborn—
Your sixteenth birthday is on the horizon, and I’ve come to realize that I haven’t had the good fortune of witnessing many of your interactions with those of the female persuasion. Somehow I’m just not privy to those goings-on. Like how did I miss that rich seven-word conversation you had with the cute, personable softball player a couple weeks ago that led your little brother to declare that you’re “so good with the girls”? Since you decided to forgo homecoming, and you haven’t technically, officially gone out on a date (although there was that one time someone special offered to bring you a Big Mac at 10 p.m. on a school night), not much has blossomed in that department.
And to be honest, I’m thankful we’re not there yet. I feel like the countdown is on until you leave for college anyway, so what’s the rush? I love having you around. That story we watched about the Denver Bronco who lived in his parents’ basement his rookie year made my heart sing with hope.
But there are other instances, quite frankly, that have me concerned. More specifically, your relationship with the other lady in your life, our little Chihuahua terrier, Lena. Although she’s only been with our family a year and a half, we’ve learned this: She’s dainty yet fierce. Timid yet protective. When her lithe, ten-pound body struts and prances down the street, auburn hair gleaming, big doe eyes scanning the neighborhood like she owns it, her tail (and nose) pointed straight toward the heavens, velvety ears bouncing in the breeze, she’s a force to be reckoned with.
However, I must say—while we don’t have a basement—if your future dating experiences mirror your relationship with her, well, I’m afraid you may be holed up with mom and dad for a very loooonnnggg time. In fact, you might consider putting together your audition tapes for The Bachelor now.
So based on my observations of you and Lena, I’d like to offer some tips:
1. Tune in to cues. Slinking into a room with an expression befitting Jack Nicholson in The Shining does not encourage warmth or trust. Blowing a referee whistle while pumping your fist doing a Fortnite dance is not soothing. A half-filled hamper is not a cozy resting spot. If she makes a beeline for the stairs or hides behind the couch when you enter the room, things are not looking good. Likewise, it’s not too promising if she waits until you leave to make her entrance.
And while you may think it’s humorous to dribble a few water droplets on her head or roll a foam ball toward her like she’s a mini-bowling pin, it’s not. I once had a boyfriend who uproariously shook a Honey Bucket while I was tending to matters inside. It wasn’t funny. Or endearing. You know how she bolts at the tiniest whisper of passed gas? Pay attention. Be in tune. You can learn a lot through someone’s actions and subtle (or not-so-subtle) cues.
2. Follow through, always. Saying, “You want to go for a walkie?” and having no intention of strapping on her harness and taking her for one is uncool. Offering a treat and then not giving one is just plain mean. Inconsistency is confusing. So please don’t tell someone you’ll textie or callie if you don’t mean it. It’s simple: don’t say it unless you’re going to do it. Period. You may be a man of few words, but make sure they’re authentic ones. Being a man of your word is one of the greatest traits you can bring to the world.
3. Be honest about your feelings. I’m your mom. I see you. I see how you’re the last one to give her a snuggle and say goodnight. You’re the first one to stretch out beside her in the morning when she’s sprawled in bed. You’re her comforter on road trips. There’s really no need to act like you don’t like her; we can see otherwise. Pretending you don’t like someone to take the sting away when she ignores or rejects you doesn’t work. Be open. Be vulnerable. Be real. Be you. Do that, and great things will happen.
Oh, and one more thing. These tips? They also apply to friendship. Be this kind of friend and you’re certain to make some that will last a lifetime.
With lots of love—and Big Macs,
Your #1 human girl (for now),