Steve Moss is a writer and publisher of The Potrero View. You can read his editorials here:

The Daddy Handbook: Dating Rules

By Steven J. Moss

“Um Dad..?” my daughter, Sara, said.  She was sitting in the backseat of the car, as we drove home from elementary school.  During the twenty minutes a day we spend in my Mini Cooper, hurling down the 101 freeway, she’s especially loquacious, like a friendly stranger after their third drink at a neighborhood bar.

Dating Rules

“Yeah, pumpkin?”

“Oh, nothing.”

“What is it?” I asked, eyeing her through the rear view mirror.

“I really should talk to mommy about this,” she paused.  “There’s this boy at school who I kind of have a crush on…”

“Uh, huh,” I said, “Everybody gets crushes, sometimes.”

“No, but, what should I do?” she countered, exasperated.  “I knew I should just talk to mom about it.”

Yes, I thought, you should.  “Tell me what the problem is,” I said.

“Well, how do I tell him I like him?  I mean, like like him.”

“You could invite him over for a play date.”  Wrong thing to say, my brain shouted.  I hurried on.  “Or maybe next time we have tickets to something fun, like a concert, or movie, you could ask him if he wants to come along.”

I could see Sara eyeing me, like I was an idiot.  Which of course on this topic, I am.  “The problem is that three other girls also like him.  And Maya said she has dibs.”

“Dibs?” I asked, “You can’t put dibs on a boy.  The boy gets to decide who he wants to be friends with.”

“No, no, she got dibs.  She said it first,” she countered, sounding like a lawyer familiar with schoolyard ordinances.

“Hmm,” I replied.  I searched for something to say.  I came up empty.  For a few moments the car was quiet but for the swooshing sounds of high-speed travel in the background.

Sara broke the silence.  “I don’t think I’m ready yet,” she said.  “I’ll just wait until fifth grade.”

“Sounds good,” I said, battling my desire to pump my fist and shout “Yes!”  “You’ll know when you’re ready.  There’s no hurry.”

The next day after school, we were walking to the Mini.  “It’s going well with my crush.  We’re talking with each other,” she said, in a voice that suggested this was the beginning and the end of the conversation.

“That’s good,” I said.  I got into the car and buckled my seat belt.  We pulled out of the parking lot, and picked up speed.  Sara gazed out the window.  “Can we go to Jackson Park?  I want to play on the monkey bars.”

“Sure,” I said, as we slowed for a traffic light.  We got on the freeway.  “I’ll take you wherever you want to go.”  

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