She sighed. “Yes. This could take a while.”
And so began the torrent of tears. Big Girl is going to a NET Ministries presentation with the youth group from church, and I’m going to a Moms’ Night Out. So Travel Man is taking Little Girl on a date. She wants to go seeMegamind.
Unfortunately, we’d told Big Girl that we probably wouldn’t go see it because it’s expensive to go to the movies (all four of us) and we’ve been kinda spendy for the last few months. So she’s upset that she isn’t seeing a movie she wants to see, but Travel Man is taking her sister to go see it.
But that’s the tip, and it was abandoned almost immediately for the more pressing issues: that we aren’t letting her have a boyfriend or a cell phone or to go on a “date” with a boy she likes.
I had to really, really think about this. Because there’s something WRONG with a 12 year old having a boyfriend. (The cell phone thing, we determined pretty quickly, was a battle she knew she wasn’t going to win, but she wanted to vent about it since she thinks everyone sees her as a total freak for not having one.) That, and she was tired of school. It’s hard in seventh grade, suddenly there’s a lot of history and writing and these are both new – at least in the quantity that they’re coming in.
But, back to the boyfriend thing. It’s WRONG, for sure, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. On the fly, I prayed my favorite prayer to pray when I’m in trouble and need immediate input.
It’s actually quite effective.
Travel Man had handled the movie thing already, and I suddenly had my answer for the boyfriend issue.
“If you have a boyfriend now, what’s left for later?”
“If you start dating now, at 12, and you have a boyfriend, what’s left to happen later, say, in four years?”
“I have a deeper relationship with him later.”
Oh, horrid words! She has NO IDEA what that means to a 16 or 17 year old boy!! She’s so innocent!
Trying not to cringe, trying not to pull punches, I finally realize that I have to let her have the information I didn’t really think I’d need to share with her for years. But, let’s face it: she’s not me. She’s not, at 12, the size of her nine year old sister. She’s not bespecled, she has no acne. She isn’t a “carpenter’s dream.” She’s not so socially awkward that she sometimes hides from people she knows in public so she doesn’t have to say hi to them. She is BEAUTIFUL and smart and funny and confident and outgoing and did I mention beautiful? (Protecting her innocence might be a real nightmare for my poor husband.)
When I was 12, boys ignored me. Unless it was to throw gypsy moth caterpillars at me. I liked being ignored better.
Not Big Girl. She’s amazing. She’s who I wanted to be at 12. And now I see God’s wisdom and protection in the late-blooming nature of my whole life.
I have to tell her that the “deeper relationship” very often turns to sex. Girls lose their virginity. They have babies. Her aunt delivered a baby for a mother who was my precious Big Girl’sage. The culture is a cesspool, and even though I do everything I can to protect her, and even though she obeys me without question when we’re walking through the mall and I order the girls to “look down quick!” so we can run a gammet of disgusting pictures and displays in shops, stuff is there. And it seeps in. And for boys, it is FAR worse! I try to explain as best as I can without details, that the visual makes boys’ and men’s brains fire like mad. Her dressing modestly protects not only her, but also the boys she knows. That it’s scary-hard for those boys who want to remain pure for their future wives because the cesspool is EVERYWHERE. I get frantic (partly to snap her out of her hysterics, partly because, dammit, I’ve been holding this in for years): I can’t walk through the mall without eight six-foot by four-foot signs of women in their underwear being plastered in front of SANTA CLAUS AT THE MALL! I can’t check out at Wal Mart without magazines discussing things that children should never see! I don’t mention that I’m sick of pedophiles designing clothes that try to make my innocent girls look like hookers. But she starts to see a little.
I explain again:
“Honey, if you start dating now, you have a boyfriend now, in four years, if you want to show your love, what’s left? Where do you go?” Now she’s just staring at me, wide-eyed. “Honey, those boys are so pressured now … “
Here I turn to my patient husband, who’s been listening to me try with all my might to help her understand what I’m protecting her from without actually going too far.
“Honey, it’s worse now. How bad was it for you when you were a boy?”
“Awful. And now is just as bad, and I’m an old married guy.”
I turn back to my wide-eyed daughter.
“Big Girl, sweetheart, those boys are so pressured into thinking that the way you express that deeper love is to give up your virginity. That is so dangerous for so many reasons, but let’s remember the most important is that it puts your very soul in mortal danger. After being with someone for three, four years, you WANT to show them how much you love them. But you can’t get married when you’re 16.”
She’s already said that she wasn’t going to do that. But I know better. Sadly, I know better.
“When you wait to have a real boyfriend until you’re 16, then when that three or four years go by and you want your love to be deeper, then you’re *ready to be married*! And that’s why we don’t want you to have a boyfriend. Because you need to save that special time for when you are ready, emotionally, to have a boyfriend.”
At this point, she was starting to feel a little overwhelmed. She started getting silly, laughing a little, and changing the subject. I pressed her for an answer, though. “Even if you don’t totally agree, do you at least *understand* our reasons now?” She did.
And, at 11:45 PM, she skipped upstairs to go back to bed.