Do you like me? Circle yes or no.
Did you ever give or receive a similar note? This historical approach was a straightforward path to a potential relationship.
In today’s culture, teens and tweens interact using texts, emails, and videos. Crushes form rapidly. Situations escalate in good and not-so-good ways.
Recently my teenage daughter experienced a boy (we’ll refer to him as “C”) who liked her. He was not the first boy to crush on her, but the first one (that I recall) to be open with her.
I’ll admit, I was excited for my daughter. I could tell having someone interested in her was exciting. She blushed.
C and my daughter had a class together. They were strangers who became friends.
This boy messaged her. He asked if he could call and email her. She (and I) agreed.
I wondered how this could go. We could arrange a meetup for them (with me there too) in a public place. My approach is to help facilitate healthy relationships for my daughters.
But while I was planning a first crush and “boyfriend” in my head, my daughter’s “relationship” took two steps back before moving forward. The next day, she said:
“Mom, I don’t like C in that way. I just liked the idea of someone liking me.”
My heart dropped. I was disappointed. I wanted to be more than mom. I could be a relationship coach or love guru. (Yes, I realize I’m delusional.)
My daughter continued.
“I wrote him this note, and I want to let him down gently, but be honest.”
Wow, that was mature of her.
Her words to him included a song with lyrics describing how two people can like each other differently. One person liked another more. She explained how he had stronger feelings than she did.
I stifled a laugh. My daughter wrote this detailed, sweet paragraph to a 12-year-old boy who was probably admitting for the first time he has a crush.
So I said:
“Sweetie, this is beautifully written and thoughtful. But he’s a boy, so be more direct. And take out the song lyric part. He may not know this tune.”
With a few suggestions, her note changed. It went something like:
“Thank you for telling me what you did. I liked the idea of being liked, but I don’t feel the same way right now. I hope we can still be friends.”
As a mom, I imagined how this boy would feel—probably crushed. My heart ached for him.
Then I wondered how his mom might feel—crushed for her son. My heart ached for her. If I knew her, I would reach out to her and try to explain.
Message sent. The boy did not reply to her. But they had a class together again.
During the class, the boy made passive-aggressive comments toward my daughter. Anything the teacher asked, C responded by being hurt. He made repeated digs at my daughter.
After class, my daughter was red-faced. She felt wounded and angry.
I took the opportunity to teach my daughter about courage and disappointment. We talked about how brave this boy was to tell my daughter how he felt. We discussed how he must feel (sad, angry, and defeated) when she did not reciprocate his feelings.
My daughter and I discussed the stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance) and how this boy’s actions toward her reflected several of those emotions. He was angry at her for not feeling the same way.
My heart now ached for my daughter, as well as the boy and his mom. My kid was beating herself up for hurting someone else.
A few more days passed, and this boy sent my daughter a message. It simply said, “hello.”
Before telling me about the message, my daughter replied to C with her stage of grief – anger. She ripped into him, saying he was mean toward her. She let him know she did not appreciate how he spoke toward her.
Wow! I was proud of my daughter for speaking her mind. I was also nervous about the boy’s reaction to her new statements. My daughter said he replied, apologizing to her.
My jaw dropped. Who knew a teenager and tween could be more mature than some adults when it comes to relationships?
This scenario is just the beginning of our crush season, and this was a short-lived event (like most middle school relationships). I can only imagine what it will be like when my daughter does match someone else’s feelings for her.
My hunch is that these crushes probably crush the parents more than the kids.
Our children get over things faster than we do.