It wasn’t easy to look at.
I came home to find my daughter sitting cross legged on my bed, holding her phone and crying. So many thoughts crossed my mind. Clearly it was a bully who had decided to text her, or say something about her on social media or worse. I just hoped that no one had physically hurt her. Other than the tears, she looked OK.
I smoothed her hot red face, and watched her untangle her skinny legs from their former pretzel position. Her breath seemed to even when she saw me come in.
I looked at her closely, trying to look through her. Are you OK?
I am going to hurt someone’s feelings she cried. Tears escalated again. I immediately had the sense that she was going to be OK. Deeply sorry for her tears, and not knowing what had made her so upset, I was relieved that whatever she told me was about to have a let-down of an ending, compared to the things that raced in my mind.
Start from the beginning. Let’s put our phones away, so we can concentrate and not be disturbed.
I can’t. He is going to text me.
OK, is this a nice person, the one whose text you are expecting, but whose existence is making you cry.
Sweet girl, is he a nice boy?
Yes, he is very, very nice. That’s the problem.
I’m confused. Let’s start again.
I don’t know what to say when he texts me.
That’s the good thing about a text. You can pretend you didn’t see it yet. That will give us some time to think about it. I’m guessing that you know the gist of the text.
YES, OMG. His friend, who is the boyfriend of my friend, told her to tell me that he is going to send me a text today and ask me out.
I figured it was something like that. (Thank goodness)
It’s horrible. I'm horrible. He is so nice, and sweet, but I don’t like him. Mom, it’s horrible, we have been friends for all my camp years, like forever. Bu I don’t like him like that. But I will be such a horrible person If I hurt his feelings. Should I just say Yes? Everyone says I should say yes.
Why in the world would you… more tears ... say Yes to anything that you don't want to do.
I thought something like this was going to happen. I could sense it since we started summer. He was always there, whenever I turned around. I will feel so terrible if I make him feel…
Like you feel now? Let me ask you something. Do you think you OWE something to him, or any other boy who thinks you are pretty? Are you going to hold every hand, or kiss every mouth?
As silly as this sounds, I am asking you a very serious set of questions. Do you think you owe anything to anyone simply because you are a pretty girl? Does everyone who befriends you deserve more than your friendship?
<looking down> I guess not. But I am sad when I make other people sad, and he is a nice boy.
Then he should be thankful to have a friend like you, and this will be a good lesson for him. You will teach him that even though you may not be his girlfriend, you can still be his friend, and you can both be thankful for a friendship that has lasted so many years.
<red eyes under clumped eyelashes looked at me as we ignored the series of incoming text messages>
You know, Sweetie, love has to be earned, just like respect. No one has either of them coming to them. I am very proud of you for caring about someone else’s feelings, but I want you to remember, for always, that for someone to be worthy of you, they have to do more than just appear in your life and ask for it. You will know when it’s right. You will know when someone should be a special part of your life.
What do I tell him?
Tell him that he is a friend, and that you are very happy he is your friend. Tell him that you are flattered, but that you are 13, and your mother says that you may not have a boyfriend until you are 28.
OK, sorry. Tell him that you are flattered, but that you would never want to take a chance to ruin the friendship that you two have developed over the years together at camp.
Ok. I think I can do that.
Of course you can. You are texting your decline. You can’t see his face, and he can’t see yours. It's one of the benefits of your generation. You don't carry books, and you can decline a date via text. I had to carry my text books 10 miles in the snow, in torn shoes to go to school and say no to a date.
Sure you did Mom. What happens when I see him Monday?
Life goes on.
I love you Mom... and you earned that.
My job here is done, for now.