Dating comes with rules
A half-instant earlier in what had been an otherwise pleasant and perfectly idle conversation, my friend mentioned, “So, I suppose your kids will be dating soon.”
Time to dad up and face the truth. High school, and Grade 10 in particular, is a period of new frontiers, not the least of which is a social interaction that takes many adults 10 or 62 years to master: The pursuit of, and often the defence from, the affection of other human beings.
Right off the top, let me apologize that I cannot report full details in this dating update for our household. I can’t afford it. The kids and I recently renegotiated our longstanding agreement on specific mentions of them by name in the stupid, dumb newspaper column, which is sooooooo embarrassing. The rate of compensation, originally set at five dollars per reference, has been adjusted to: a car.
Suffice that once again, as a father of triplets, I find myself in complicated circumstances. As a protective dad, my dating concerns are threefold, for:
1) The pretty blond cheerleader, my daughter, the angel who had me at that first gurgle in the hospital delivery room, now an extraordinarily bright girl of many talents whose smile alone can bring a blush to the sun of summer day, the princess of my humble empire, my little doodle-cakes, now – sniff – all grown up;
2) Her brother, and;
3) The other guy, also a brother.
My situation demands a certain degree of political finesse as well. Last week I announced in this space my phoney candidacy for premier of Saskatchewan (which was also soooooo embarrassing, apparently). To give you an idea of how vitally important I consider today’s topic to the safety and well-being of our great province – the safety and well-being, in particular, of our great province’s male high school students, except for two – know that over the weekend I made the extra effort, for me, of engaging in actual research.
I can’t say I disagreed with the website of the organization DADD, Dads Against Daughters Dating (motto: “Shoot the first one. Word will spread”). A more subtle approach is that of standup comic Bill Engvall who, when chatting with suitors while his daughters
get ready for their dates, makes it a point to comment, offhand, that he is not afraid to go back to prison. Syndicated columnist W. Bruce Cameron once wrote a piece, “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Daughter” (“Rule #2: You make her cry, I make you cry”), that met with such universal dad endorsement that it eventually became a long-running ABC sitcom.
Yes, yes, yes. I do realize that my position is a despicable doublestandard, old school in the worst sense, and outrageously sexist. In my defence, let me simply state: I do not care. When it comes to my daughter, I don’t. And that thunderous “Woof-woof-woof” you hear in the background? That “You go, Ron!” from the distant outdoors? That’s the collective hooting and fist-pumping of the roughly 18,000 fathers of high-school daughters across Saskatchewan whose votes I just locked down (the dads’ votes, not the girls’) (few of the girls are of voting age, anyway).
We are, however, reasonable men. If you are a teenage boy ringing our doorbells these days, our advice is to be well-dressed, neatly groomed, polite as all get out, and fully prepared to discuss reform of resource revenue-sharing. Because if you are not a member of a political party’s youth wing on nothing more than official campaign business, you are in a very precarious spot. If you show up shaggy, in a leather jacket and pants, tattoos stretching down your face and arms, it had better be the evening of Oct. 31, buddy-boy, and don’t expect to leave the premises with anything sweeter than a miniature O Henry.
Simply put, we do not like you. It’s nothing personal. You can address us by “mister” at every turn. Perhaps we coached you in peewee hockey. Maybe our families enjoyed many a summer barbecue together. One of us could well be your godfather. Doesn’t matter.
We don’t like you for one compelling reason: We used to be you.
That’s not to say we’ll never develop a friendship. If the big dating goes well, if you treat our daughter with the utmost respect, and you have her home by curfew, and if, over time, you never falter in the example we’ve set for the love, adoration and protection of our little girl, chances are that one day we will arrive at some mutual admiration.