During these quiet times, I think back on some of those special moments when our children were closer than a text message away. This letter to my son is one of those moments when I tried to impart some wisdom regarding God’s most complicated creation..
To My Son:
As most everyone knows from early on, boys are rather uncomplicated creations of God. Women, while also God’s creation, somehow are far from uncomplicated. It is almost as if God wanted a challenge after all of His other creating was complete. I do not know that women were a challenge to God, but they sure are to us men. I am not certain what God had in mind when he created men and women so different, but needless to say men and women have very little in common when it comes to relationship building which is supposed to be the whole reason for dating.
I am quite certain, before you are very old, you will begin to notice that there is something quite, shall we say, attractive about most girls. An attractiveness that makes your tummy go all queasy when you need to talk (ugh!) to a girl. This is a feeling you never get when discussing trading Brett Favre’s football card for Randy Moss’s with Tommy, the boy next door. (By the way, not a good trade).
The first time I really noticed this rather different feeling was when I was square dancing with Lori in sixth grade. In my day, all the boys would line up on one side of the gym and all the girls would line up on the other to pair off for a bit of reluctant square dancing. As the lines moved together you would be quickly paired off with one of those girls. During this activity there was quite a bit of line hopping going on since no boy wanted to be matched up with Blanche while everyone wanted to hold Lori’s hand. On one unbelievable day, by some stroke of luck, the class bully miscalculated his place in line and I was paired with Lori. I had never danced so well–my doe see dos were divine and my allemande lefts were superb. I could have danced all period and straight through math class. Unfortunately, I was soon brought back to reality with a toot of the whistle. I don’t think I ever said anything to Lori, but my tummy was a turning.
Because I always had trouble coming up with something clever or otherwise to say, I learned very little about girls through high school and beyond. I can share with you very little good advice, which might make your first encounters with girls more successful. What advice I can give you may or may not help, but I thought I should still share what I think I know. Most of this information is gleaned from conversations with other boys who oftentimes knew as little about the subject as I did.
- Girls tend to be relationship oriented while us boys tend to favor the task which has a logical conclusion. Relationships require communication and for some girls this means there is no end in sight to the communicating required. You might hear it said that girls need to talk twice as much as boys. Well it’s actually worse than that. Not only do they need to talk twice as much as boys, the talk generally needs to be meaningful. Sharing the day’s box scores or how that birdie putt rimmed the cup does not count towards meaningful conversation and may even be construed as boring; in which case, you’re well on your way to being passed over for the next boy on the date card.
- Girls cherish the small things, which we boys usually don’t think twice or even once about. The fact that we don’t think about them is probably why we don’t do them and why we’re off the date card once again. A little note or a bouquet of flowers goes a long way towards keeping us in favor with the girl of our current affections.
- You should not spend time officially dating while in high school. It is fine to spend time together in groups of friends, but, really, dating means spending a lot of one on one time with someone who you really don’t need to get to know that well until you’re well on your way to thinking about a long term commitment.
- Girls cry for no apparent reason. I haven’t figured out what is appropriate to say in these moments, however, I do know of a few things not to say.
- It is best not to talk about sports during these special moments. Explaining why the Brewers have no chance to win the World Series in hopes of keeping the conversation flowing will only add to the flow of tears.
- It is best not to try to be clever during these moments. Saying, “I think I should invest in some Kleenex stock” or “You really should consider getting waterproof makeup” are probably considered inappropriate remarks by the one who matters the most at the time.
- It is best not to be quiet during these moments. While you are not to say anything “cute”, you do need to say something. This puts an incredible amount of pressure on most boys. You can’t talk about sports and you can’t be clever, where does that leave you? I think with the dreaded double “S”, serious and sensitive.
The first date is always interesting. You are as nervous as can be. You will have a million and one decisions to make during the course of the evening and even one tiny mistake could bring to an end your hopes for, yes, a second date. Do you spend a little or a lot? Flowers or no? Formal or casual? Dutch or do you pick up the tab? A movie or just dinner? If it’s a sports activity, do you let her win? Do you try to hold her hand? Do you open the car door for her? Do you bring her flowers? Who should you ask? What do you wear? Where do you go? When should you pick her up? Why am I doing this? Whew, sounds like an awful lot of questions and no one’s giving you the answers.
Well, maybe I can help on some of these.
- Spend as little as possible. Next question.
- Flowers are always pretty much a sure thing. Carnations are your Mom’s favorite and they tend to have good staying power. Along the lines of point one, you can buy a bunch of carnations without a vase for a lot less than if you buy the whole arrangement.
- Casual was always preferred. This tends to fall in line with point one as well. Formal equals expensive.
- Lunch is cheaper.
Let’s take a break. I hope you do not think somehow that I am cheap when it comes to the first date. I prefer to call it being a good steward of what God has provided. Besides, you will be facing one decision after another. If you keep a steady theme throughout the date– frugal, or she may say cheap– many of the decisions become real simple and you will come across as confident, sure of yourself, experienced, strong, and cheap.
- If you ever hope to play her again in whatever sport you choose, you need to keep the game close. For example, your Mom and I would play tennis together. The first few times we played I tried my best to lay that ball right back on her racket. I saw little to be gained by thoroughly trouncing her. Something, of course, which I could have done with little or no effort.
- Hand holding is a risky proposition for the first date. I suggest a no on this one.
- YES. I failed miserably on this one with your Mom, and I am sure she will still be retelling the story when we are rocking together on the front porch in our retirement years. It wasn’t that I didn’t know to do this one it was just that I was so nervous thinking about everything else that the simple things kind of slipped by.
- I think I answered this already. As you can see things can get a little confusing when you’re arranging the big date and it becomes very easy to start repeating yourself.
- This one is actually pretty simple. Start with the girls who do not do a quick about face when they see you and have the right answer to the question of why should I let you into my kingdom (His not yours).
- What to wear? This is one I best not answer. Fashions seem to change so much that any ideas I have will be so “old fashioned” that they will be of little value. Unless of course, I happen to hit the time period when bell bottoms and polyester are in style once again.
- Another repeated question.
- The time of the date is fairly critical. You do not want to make it too early just in case you do not hit it off and you find yourselves staring blankly at each other for an extended time period. Too late and you find yourself rushing to get her home on time (something very important if hopes for date number two are in your head).
- Why do we date? I don’t know. Sounds like a lot of stress to me.
When you were very young, your mother asked me what I was going to tell you before your first big date. I stumbled over the question for quite some time and I am still stumbling. Much of life is based on relationships. Relationships with the Lord, your Mom and me, your sisters, Grandma and Papa, friends, and, yes, even someday, girls. Never take these relationships lightly and always remember the one you are dating is precious in God’s sight and her Dad’s, and should be treated accordingly.