Love Actually. This is one of my favorite films. If you've seen the movie, there's a story of Liam Neeson's recently widowered character Daniel trying to discover what was bothering his preteen stepson Sam. He finally learns that Sam is madly in love with a girl. So he hatches a plan to help Sam win her affections. As a daddy, you have to wonder what you would have said in this situation:
Daniel: We can definitely crack this. Remember I was a kid once too. Come on - it's someone at school right?
Daniel: And what does she feel about you?
Sam: She doesn't even know my name. And even if she did, she'd despise me. She's the coolest girl in school and everyone worships her because she's heaven.
Daniel: Good. Good. Well, basically. . . you're fucked aren't you?
LOL, not sure I would choose the same words! But from Sam's point of view, when I was growing up there was absolutely no way I would ever approach my parents for this advice let alone let them know I was interested in anything but studying. My Mom was strictly by the book, no dating until after college, grad school, a good job, etc. After that Mom said she would help me pick a wife. NOOOOO! (Let's just say, I wasn't exactly thrilled with her taste in potential mates...)
Fast forward to a few years ago when Number One Monster tells me he likes this girl in Pre-K so I'm feeling deja vu. Now I thought to myself, do I want to be the type of daddy whose sons would come to him for dating advice? Do I even want them thinking about dating at this age? Ah hell, will this old man even be able to give the right advice?! Unfortunately, we all know that the image of Asian American men suffers from discriminatory bias in the media so these questions are even more pertinent.
At some point, I realized that I am not only raising kids but also future spouses and parents (and by parents I am hoping it's past the teens.) So at this young age, any relationship they have is harmless but could be a valuable learning experience. So here are my first fumbling attempts to train him:
The Truth and Only the Truth
My wife asked me one day if "this [dress] made her look fat" (yes those EXACT dreaded words!) I ignored her and turned to Number One Monster:
Me: Son, you remember I told you to always tell the truth?
Me: Well... there are certain exceptions.
I told him that no matter what to always remember that women are never fat, nor ugly or heavy. And I tested him:
Me: So son [pointing to really fat lady on TV], is that girl fat?
Son: Nope, but you are!
Doh! Well, I guess working as intended... (My wife had good laugh from that one.)
Why are Girlfriends Extra Special
Me: Son, you know you have to treat all your friends as special.
Me: But you have to treat your girlfriend extra special.
Son: Why do you have to treat her extra special?
Me: Because if you don't, she won't be your girlfriend any longer.
(OK, it will take some time but one day he'll figure that one out.)
Then came the big day I've been dreading - Number One Monster really wanted to ask that girl out. They were both age 7 and in Kindergarten at the time. So no matter what happened, it was going to be a milestone for him...
to be continued