Monday, September 14, 2009

Friday night anxiety

Friday evening presented another one of those "back to the future" moments. My fourteen-year-old, freshman daughter attended her first high school football game. The event snuck up on me...wait, let me rephrase that; it blindsided me. Thoughts and emotions arose in fragments:
- One massive hormonal stew, simmering, simmering.
- Darkness, giggles.
- Packs of teenagers eating red ropes, checking their hair, walking slowly, but not in straight lines.
- Boys approaching my daughter, asking her if she knows what time it is (that was always my best pick-up line).
I dropped her off at the game with her best friend as darkness began to surround the lit-up football stadium. As I drove off, my mind wondered back, yet again. As a fourteen year-old guy, I was just slightly evolved above a chimpanzee. Sure, I could talk to my parents, my friends and my teachers, but could I talk to a cute girl? No way. The best I could do was pop in some grape Bubble Yum and stick close to any friends who were slightly more adept at addressing the opposite sex. And hopefully, today's teenage boys still act like big, dumb puppies and she'll think they're a waste of time. Yeah, right.
I sat at home with my nine-year-old daughter, watching, fittingly, "Father of the Bride," and thought about what could be happening a mere two miles away at Southwest Athletic Field, where the entire ritual was taking place. Let's see, it's about 8:30. Probably by now, she's talked to ten freshman guys, five sophomores, two juniors and, God forbid, a senior.
I expressly instructed her not to give out her phone number, but who knows? I should have taken her out to a dinner containing lots of garlic beforehand. Maybe I should have actually attended the game and brought the binoculars to "see the game" a little better. Or maybe I should have just encouraged her to play football to avoid the entire Friday night mating ritual.
But then I remembered that I've spent the past fourteen years teaching her right from wrong, proper social behaviors and techniques for staying safe. This is just one in a large series of events leading to independence and adulthood.
And I'll make sure to remove that GPS implant from her forearm before she gets married.

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