There are days when I feel like a dinosaur of sorts.
In my day, we didn't have mobile phones, didn't have e-mail or the ability to IM, so our communication revolved around the telephone or face-to-face conversations. Boys and girls became aware of one another at a certain point, but didn't really see one another outside of school until a few years later. Things seemed very complicated to us then, but now... I see just how simple they were. How different things are today.
My daughter is just 8. She will excitedly tell you that she is actually 8.75, but I like to think of her as 8. She is aware of boys, but she isn't overly interested in them as anything other than people to work with, advise, laugh with... in other words, befriend. And that is, to be honest, the way I like it.
A friend of mine is not so lucky. His eldest daughter Jane started enjoying the attention of a boy in her class at the age of 11. Granted, she was nearly 12, and I do suppose that this might matter. Jane and her boyfriend Joe went to the end of the year dance (met there but he asked her) and communicate, to date, via IM and see one another at school. And now, they might be going on their first "date!"
But is it a date? Jane says that Joe invited her. Apparently Joe's parents say that it is a group of friends going to the movies. Even if there are friends involved, the matter in which Jane was asked could be the tipping point as to whether or not it is a date. Jane's parents are talking to Joe's parents as to the "event" and the rules that must be followed. Jane will understand the boundaries set forth by her parents and their expectations of her.
And I am looking into real estate on an island somewhere far removed from boys! (Or home schooling? A private tutor?)
The idea of 7th grade kids even thinking about dating seems odd to me. It is not that I don't want my daughter to enjoy the company of boys (within reason) or an active and healthy social life. I will arm her with all the education she needs. It is more that I want her to enjoy being a kid and enjoying her life fully before all those hormones kick in and start contributing to her decisions.
My daughter is a serious ballet student. She currently spends 6 hours in the studio a week working in her own class, helping in younger classes, and rehearsing for the Nutcracker (if anyone is in the DC area and would like to attend, please let me know!). Her dream is to dance. By the time she enters 7th grade, she may be doing ballet full time or at least 10 hours a week - leaving little time for boys. From my observations at her ballet school, this is the norm. The girls don't make room for boys in their lives until they hit high school; at which point, they often leave ballet despite their love of it or their talent. Thus, I am not too concerned.
Yet it is something for me to consider; something for me to chat with others about. What is the modern dating age? Are there different rules now than there were when I was younger?
I talked to the Diva's dad last night. "You should have thought about that before you got pregnant." (I dislike this response from men to the X degree). He was joking, I am sure, but I also realize and accept that when the Diva becomes interested in boys and dating - if I am not married, then I will be on my own.
Just as I intend for my daughter to be fully educated and able to make the best decision possible, I want to be fully educated as well. I realize that it comes down to personal choices - for this boy she might be fine for a movie but for that boy... there is no way! Or she is too young for a movie out but he can come over to watch a movie with her.
The modern world of kids dating... waters that are so unfamiliar to me and yet waters that I have no doubt I must navigate at some point before I turn 50 (that gives me 12 years, by the way - and my hair will be white by then I am sure)
So what are the rules? When do kids start dating? What about Face book, My Space and IM communication?