One of my daughters already has a boyfriend, the 6 year old. They’ve been together since they were 3 and have firm plans in place for their wedding. She waivers between having 1 child or no children – definitely not 2 though because 2 kids is really hard work!!! I tell her it’s fun. She looks at me with pity.
However there is the outside possibility that this relationship will fail and my youngest daughter is yet to find herself a beau, even though she’s almost 4. If she’s not careful she’s going to be on the shelf at this rate!! At some point one of my babies will turn to me for advice on boys. And not just advice. She’ll ask me for the answer to the whole conundrum that is love. After all, in their eyes I appear to have solved it. I’m living happily ever after with a man I love, all be it he’s southern and there is not a hope of him ever getting a real tattoo (although he’s due an afternoon nap and I’ve just got a new pack of Sharpies mwah ha ha!!) Chances are that what will drive them to ask me the question in the first place is that some horrible snotty boy has broken their heart. I’ll want to make it better. I’ll want to give them the answer. I’ll wish more than anything that I knew what that answer was!!!
I don’t know that I can solve the ‘love conundrum’, but what I can offer is Hindsight, and as the saying goes “Hindsight is a wonderful thing.” My friends Sue and Mark used to throw me a BBQ every time I got dumped. There was one month they threw me three BBQs. I have more experience in being dumped than I care to remember. I’ll certainly be able to empathise with them in those moments of heartbreak, and below is the wisdom I’ll share with my girls.
DATING IS A NUMBERS GAME
With the benefit of hindsight it seems to be a game of numbers – if you kiss enough frogs then you’ll eventually kiss a prince. However you can’t kiss too many frogs else you’ll be labelled a frog kisser and nobody will want to marry you with that kind of reputation.
It doesn’t just happen. You have to be up for it happening. That said you also can’t make it happen. It’s understandable why women chose career over marriage!
It’s a silly game. Accept that and you’re half way there!
BOYS ARE NOT COMPLICATED
If a boy dumps you it’s because he doesn’t want to go out with you anymore. It’s as simple as that. No amount of analysis, reading books, cracking out the tarot cards or casting spells is going to change it. Hold your head high and get over him because the sooner he’s out of your system the sooner you’re ready to get back in the game. Under no circumstances do you kiss him or anything else ever again. He is not worthy of you.
Equally if you go on a date and he doesn’t call you, it means he doesn’t want to go out with you again. It doesn’t mean he’s dead. I made my friend Clare drive me over to a boys house who stopped calling me after nearly 2 months of dating because I was concerned about him and he lived on his own. Surely he wouldn’t be that rude? He was. Instead of ending the relationship properly like a grown-up he chose to just pretend he was no longer in one. What a knob. Men are knobs. Why are you bothering! That said it was quite good fun – Clare and I both wore black from head to toe; it was as close as we’ll ever get to starring in a Milk Tray advert.
REAL LOVE IS A STATE OF RELAXATION!
Love should be easy. You should be able to be yourself, look your worst, smell bad, fall over, fall apart and bare all to your man and he still look at you as if you are Kylie Minogue before the surgery. He should be your best friend as well as your protector. If it’s complicated or your heart is being broken or you’re having to jump through hoops then it’s not love, it’s something else. Get out of there little lady.
Don’t sleep with a man on a first date. If they really want you to be in their life they’ll ask you out again. Then if they don’t ask you out again you can say “well at least I didn’t sleep with him.” The feeling that you got one over on him by not sleeping with him is priceless – treasure it!!!
RESPECT AND TRUST
Love isn’t enough, you also need respect and trust. Trust isn’t just about him not getting off with all the girls on the year 6 netball team. Trust is about lending him your stuff and knowing it’ll come back in the same state. It’s about him not assuming you’ll fail at something before you even started. It’s about trusting one another to not spend all your money on the most ridiculously expensive Sky package when you can barely afford to buy food.
Respect is about him asking you to do something rather telling you. It’s about him letting you be yourself and everything you are, whether that be loud, shy, unhealthy, obsessively clean or a total football freak. It’s about him accepting all of you, faults and all, and hoping that in return you’ll accept all of him. It’s about him realising that your time is your own to command and not a resource for him to use and vice versa. It’s about him realising that you are in this relationship because you choose to be, not because you have to be, and he should be damn well flattered that you’ve chosen to spend your life with him, even if it’s only a short part of your life and you’re only 8 years old!
It works both ways. If you want respect and trust then you should be dishing it out in spades. If you want to be listened to and really understood then you have to listen to your other half….really listen. So often our loved ones are the people we treat most poorly. Parents, for example, are often at the back of the cue when it comes to respect distribution, especially amongst teenagers. A big hand to those parents whose children’s teenage years have lasted well into their 40s – keep hanging in there. Miracles happen.
I have spent many an hour getting ready to go out, looking my best, just incase Mr Right is out there. Turns out it was a complete waste of time. Last night I went on a hen doo and took along with me 18 moustaches from the pound shop. At 9pm we all donned our moustaches. From that moment on we were innundated by men! One of them took his clothes off!!! I choose a ginger moustache and brought it home. Today my eldest tried it on for size, just incase it all goes wrong with her boyfriend. She looks amazing – I’m pretty confident that one day, with looks like that, she’ll definitely make me a grandma.
It’s horrible to think that one day my little poppets will grow up and some crappy boy will break their heart. Calpol won’t take that pain away and I can’t do it for them either. They just have to live through it. People say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Sometimes it makes you a bit bitter! Perhaps my role is to make sure that they don’t lose hope that there is a happily ever after out there for them, and help them keep the faith when they’re exploring the lily pads looking for a prince amongst the Frogs.
And I’m assuming they’re straight. If they’re Lesbians then I’ll need to buy a self help book!
And if all else fails I’ll send their Dad out to get ’em!!!
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SARAH CANTRILL is a woman on a mission to inspire every young child to become a reader for pleasure. She is the Artistic Director & Founder of STORY STORKS, a social enterprise that delivers interactive story workshops to early years children and their grown ups, that help kids to fall in love with stories and develop their early language skills meaning that they have an easier time of learning to read when the time is right. Infact 80% of the kids who come through STORY STORKS are right where they should be or ahead in terms of progression through the reading book scheme once they get to school and the ones who are behind are trying hard because they know that it’s worth it – that to read is to unlock a whole world of fun and adventure and learning and imagination and they might take a bit longer to get there but they’re determined that get there they will.