From the ages of 8 to 13, we lived in a small town in central KS. It was about 300 people, had a post office, city hall, library, AM-Pride gas station, bank and bar. When we first moved there, it had a grade school, but then it was consolidated with surrounding small towns.
In my 6th grade class there were four Dericks (or Dereks, depending on who you were talking to, there were various spellings). One we called Rick, one I "dated" off and on (and so remember his last name), one I only know existed but never socialized with, and then there is the Derek of this story.
He came over to my house one evening while his grandpa was down at the town bar getting drunk. We hung out underneath the apple tree at the corner of the garage for, oh, maybe an hour, until my parents (who had been watching from the front window) said it was time for him to leave.
I felt rather sorry for Derek, because I'm pretty sure he ended up sitting out in front of the bar until his grandpa was ready to go home. Not a fun way to spend an evening.
And I didn't really understand why my parents weren't too happy about our "alone" time. We were standing out in front of the house talking, not hiding anywhere.
In our paper this week, on the police log page, there was a report of a 16 year old boy being arrested for sexual misconduct with a 13 year old girl from the dates of December 2011 to April 2012. The girl's mother reported him.
As much as it disturbed me that this 16 year old was messing around in ways he shouldn't have been, that a 13 year old was part of it, it bothers me even more that the girl's mother is the one who reported him.
Why was she letting her daughter date anyway? She's 13! Why is she spending time ALONE with a 16 year old boy?
I will give the mother the benefit of the doubt that maybe she didn't know what her daughter was doing for those five months. Kids go against their parents all the time, even the best parents will have children do something behind their back.
Maybe reporting this boy was the only way the mother could get through to her daughter that what she was doing was wrong.
It breaks my heart. This little girl, 13 or not, she's still a little girl, has experienced things she should never have experienced that young.
Curly Girl is young enough that when I say things like "You're not dating until you're 33" she agrees, without really comprehending the age.
But Curly Girl is not too young to know a love story, and want that, when she sees it. When she watches "How To Train Your Dragon" she is just sure that Hiccup and Astrid will get married (she doesn't comprehend that they are just teenagers themselves). When she dresses up like a princess, she is always trying to get Curly Boy to play the prince so they can dance and get married.
She loves the ending of Sleeping Beauty, where Aurora gets to dance with Phillip at the big party.
At age 4, Curly Girl understands true love and romance and wants that in her life. It baffles me, amazes me, warms my heart, and scares me to death.
How am I going to protect this young, fragile, pure heart as she begins school? As she grows and learns about relationships with boys her age?
I pray God helps me be a good example, that He gives me the words to teach my daughter, that she understands where true love comes from, and that it is worth waiting for. I pray that she sees the love Mr. Curly and I have for each other and wants that sort of love for herself and is willing to trust God to find it.
There is that cliche' "the older I get, the more I realize how much I don't know" and being a parent makes me feel exactly that way.