In class last week, all my students read this piece from 2008 about courtship and dating. When they were finished, I had them write their reactions to several questions based on these thoughts. The male and female perspectives on love and happiness from the pens of teenagers will be my entries in the coming evenings.
Several days ago, I re-ran an entry my dad wrote about his courtship of my mother, entitled The Wooing Of Nelda Chesshir. One of my players, Haley, e-mailed me with these words of eighth grade girl wisdom:
I loved your dad's blog! I just wish more men were into ''wooing'' women these days!!
We talked about it in class the next day. I mentioned my belief that girls/women get from boys/men what they demand and tolerate. I see many girls who settle for boorish behavior from my gender and wonder why they aren't treated with respect. That morning, Mike White e-mailed me about Dad's article and I stopped by his Guidance Office to thank him. We talked about what Dad had written and Mike reflected, as I cannot, from the perspective of a married man. Mike and his beautiful wife, Jennifer, will celebrate their tenth anniversary in several months. As we spoke, Mike told me a fascinating story about Jennifer and her entry onto the dating scene. It went like this:
Jennifer grew up in California with very traditional parents who were not going to allow her to date until she turned sixteen. One day, her father told her she was about to go on her first date...and it was going to be with him. It was going to be done in the proper manner and according to the standards of their family. Soon afterwards, her father called her from work and asked her out for Saturday night. The rule was you couldn't have a date with Jennifer set up at the last minute- there was plenty of advanced notice. Her dad told Jennifer to dress nicely and she did. On Saturday night, he came around to the front door and rang the bell. He talked to her mother, the same as would be expected of any suitor. As they departed, he opened the front door for her and then the car door. At the restaurant, he pulled back her chair and told her to order whatever she desired. After dinner, they went for ice cream and a walk along the beach. The entire evening, Jennifer and her dad talked about dating and boys and life. He treated her, in Jennifer's own words, ''like a princess.'' The message was loud and clear: Any boy who wants to spend time with you will follow this protocol and any young man who doesn't treat you in the manner your father did should never have the opportunity for DATE # 2. When they returned to the house, Jennifer and her folks sat down and drew up a list of the qualities she would require in a boyfriend/husband, a list which would be referred to several times in the future. Jennifer told me she didn't quite understand it all as a fifteen year old....but she does now and is very cognizant of the tremendous blessing her father and mother bestowed upon her half a lifetime ago. Some boys would not agree to her parents' guidelines and passed her by. At times, like many girls, she struggled with liking guys she knew were not up to her qualifications...and her folks pulled out the list to remind her. I didn't have to ask, though. I know Mike met her criteria, the ones a wonderful mother and father helped her formulate back in California. Some things go without saying.
When I told my classes about Jennifer and her father, there were conflicting reactions. The boys divided into the bewildered camp or the disbelief camp. The girls were much more attentive. A few were skeptical while the overwhelming majority sat enthralled. More than a few wished they had a father like that and some, I would guess, might have dropped a hint to their daddy that night. I know one of our students who will be escorted on her first date on the arm of a proud father. Mike and Jennifer have a daughter, Madison, who is five. She is one lucky little girl. If she doesn't know it now, she will in ten years.
Applicable quote of the day:
"My father died many years ago, and yet when something special happens to me, I talk to him secretly, not really knowing whether he hears, but it makes me feel better to half believe it."
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