The Herald Bulletin

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Columns

March 27, 2014

Jim Bailey: Growing up is hard to accept for a teenager’s mother

My granddaughter is 14 going on 20. As with most young women her age, she’s starting to get into the boy-girl thing.

Naturally, that’s not easy for my daughter, her mom, to accept. She’d prefer her little girl remain that way for a few, uh, decades.

Kids nearing their 15th birthday prefer dates of the sort where they show up at the mall and spend the afternoon at a movie. They can’t drive themselves, of course, so mom or dad must supply the transportation.

My daughter has other ideas. Such as spending the afternoon at the same movie in the back row, the better to keep an eye on daughter and her would-be suitor. Our darling granddaughter naturally doesn’t think much of that idea. (In the first place, the back row of the mall’s stadium seating is frequently a preferred hangout for the younger set.)

Perhaps our daughter’s concern is as much personal as protective. I remember well her own behavior at that age, from one boy to the next, much of it calculated to pique the interest of the guy she really wanted to date.

That tactic didn’t work in the long run, of course. She ended up marrying another boy she had known all through school, whose penchant for mischief often exceeded her own.

Human nature doesn’t change that much over the years. But time does tend to change the way it plays out in interpersonal relationships and the way the older generation feels about the behavior of their offspring.

In my parents’ day, what was then called courting was usually carried out in the parlor of the girl’s family, and it was a given that mom or dad would be keeping an eye on the goings-on in the other room. The young man, of course, was expected to ask for and obtain the permission to court the girl first. If they had occasion to go anywhere else, a chaperone was mandatory.

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