Bowing Out


The boys were spraying each other with the hose, my least favorite of the messes they make, when the phone rang. Officially, puberty has yet to affect the vocal chords of many of my son’s friends, so I assumed the high-sounding voice on the other end of the phone was just a guy from his class. I handed my son the phone, and soon, I heard him say, “No,” and then hang up, and put the phone down.

“Who was that?”

“Some girl.”

I assumed it was for homework, but this was not to be. I should have guessed, as the first time the phone rang… no one was there. I can imagine the conversation now, on the other end… “It was his MOM!” Actually, no, I want to say in my mind, I’m just as curious as your are about this whole thing, and how to react and how it will all turn out. I’m not the MOM. Mom implies you know everything. I know little.

“She was calling for a friend,” he said, after I questioned.

“Her friend wanted to know if I wanted to go out with her.” (Go out, today means go steady… you don’t go anywhere or do anything.)

“So you said, No, just like that?”

“Yeah. I don’t like her.”

Why now do I think back to my own adolescent time when I was the one with the crush. The days I would spend agonizing about whether or not to call, asking for advice from my friend again, and then actually getting the courage to make the call, and to find it ended, right here, shattered, over, in a million pieces?

Looking back now, I know, this was where I learned my most important life lessons.

  • If you had to ask someone else what to do, save yourself some misery and do nothing until it feels right, from your gut, and you know what to do.
  • If you felt weird, scared or sick about something — probably means it isn’t right for you.
  • If the whole thing depends on you, and no other forces in the universe seem to be helping you out, you’re wasting your time. You cannot force anything.

If you would have told me this at age 12 or 18 even, I would have been tempted, but I wouldn’t have, to spit on you.

“I’m glad you were honest about your feelings,” I say. “You certainly don’t have to go out with anyone you’re not comfortable with. But I just want you to know that she’s crying now. ”

“She wasn’t the one who called.”

“I know, but sweetie, she was right there beside her friend, listening in. She’s crushed, and she’s probably got a few tears. There’s nothing you can do to help her, but I just want you to know how she feels.”

15 comments to “Bowing Out”
  1. Oh my Susie, I have had these same conversations within the last two weeks. Someone in my household had/has quite a crush on someone and unfortunately, learned the hard way that your friends just can’t keep those secrets. (some day, the really good friends will be able to) I saw a train wreck coming and wanted to spare all feelings involved, his, hers, and…mine at watching it all play out….and like you, being that girl on the other end of the phone….

    and this is only the beginning….

  2. How thoughtful of you to give him the girl’s perspective. I remember those days too. I was pretty lucky that the boys generally would at least talk to me, so that helped my self-esteem a little!

  3. We’re on the opposite end of the spectrum here. I have an almost twelve-year-old boy with his first crush. She’s tall, pretty, sweet, smart and popular. He wants to ask her out. And I have a wonderful, adorable smart little man who may get his heart broken soon. Ah, young love.

    You heart must be breaking for him, Shaley…. so sad…

  4. YES!! I am so glad you told him…

    I was both girls..the one crying and the one that made the call..Our problem was there were only something like 8 boys..slim pickings…

    You were a good friend, mp.

  5. I’m not looking forward to the whole pubescent angst thing…mostly because I didn’t have that many experiences at that age so I don’t think I’ll be able to relate well. But I hope I can do something like you did there at the end, just try to encourage a little empathy.

  6. it’s interesting to hear it from a different point of view. i’m very familiar with the girl end of that conversation. 😉

    Yes, I know how painful it is to be the girl on the outside, Painted Maypole. I must admit, it was a refreshing change to be on the other side, with the guy this time. Definitely cleared up a lot of the cobwebs from my own past. Now, if I knew what I just learned from my son, I wouldn’t have taken it so hard back then.

  7. So, what would you suggest the father do if his daughter’s the one, or the one next to the one? Cause I really don’t want to stand there mute, or fob her off on my wife. (This is why I encourage her to talk to me now….so we can talk later, instead of me standing there helpless, let alone whipping out to ensure that any boy who makes her cry will always be eligble for the Vienna Boys Choir.)

    Bill, if I didn’t know the boy… I would just listen, and tell her to write it all down… the pain, the rejection and the sorrow. But now that I know the boy, and I know that the two have never even met, I would tell her to go out, move on, and get over it and have some fun. My son is baffled, because he has never even spoken to this girl, so how does she even know if she really does want to “go out with him.” He’s baffled, and finds the whole idea incredulous that’s she’s pinning away for him.

  8. I can totally remember being that girl. And being in your son’s position too.

    You handled the situation so well.

    Mama Bird,
    I don’t think I had the luxury of being in my son’s position… well, at least night in middle or high school!

  9. I never had the courage to make the call myself, nor to have any of my friends make the call. I just loved from afar …

    What a great mum you are. Keep going like this, you’ll have created this amazing guy that’s really tuned into the chicks … and then they’ll be ringing up all the time!!


    Oh dear, Sue… more calls, really is the last thing I want!

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