Personal Essay Relationships

We also couldn’t foresee cyberbullying or nude selfies or any of the pitfalls teens face coming of age with the internet, but there were plenty of worries we share culled from our own analog adolescent experiences. I watched other, more confident girls pair up with boys in our class and I wanted in.So we plotted how to be the kind of parents who could talk with our daughter about the things we could never talk about with our own well-meaning parents. I went so far as to make getting a boyfriend my New Year’s resolution, announcing my intention to my two best friends.I’ll be there to hold her and to tell her I know how much it hurts to say goodbye to someone you love.

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But avoiding the popular boys turned out to be far from a safe bet. I spent middle school alone with an anxious, aching heart.

As our daughter neared 13, I prepared to share my hard-earned wisdom about boys at that age—that they were a complete waste of time.

That for stability she has sacrificed the constant discovery that is so much a part of adolescence.

And not only discovery, but turmoil: all those missteps, those bruised feelings, the rejection, the humiliation, the uncomfortable situations. I don’t mean to suggest that my daughter doesn’t struggle. There’s no avoiding difficult times when you are a teenager, but throughout Now she finds herself facing another situation with which I have zero experience: what to do about the perfect high school boyfriend as you prepare to go to college. They have decided, after much discussion, that they don’t want to go to school together or even near to each other.

(Anyone with a teenager knows this is no exaggeration.) At night they would get on Face Time and talk, or just do their homework, side by virtual side in companionable silence. I was pretty sure I knew how this story ended, but I also knew that no teenager wants to be told by her mother that she’s dating the wrong boy or that she’s in love with her best friend.

On Valentine’s Day, in receipt of the message that he needed to step up his game, Boyfriend Max gave my daughter a pink teddy bear, just the kind of gesture I dreamed about when I made that New Year’s resolution all those years ago.

Better, I wanted to tell her, to focus on something else.

But then she started dating the most popular boy in her class, a boy named Max.

In this series you will find a cross-section of experiences – everything from women who consider their mothers a best friend, to those for whom this fundamental bond is a source of pain.

The writers participating in this exercise range in age from thirty-something to sixty-something.


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