Ok, I realize I am not a father. Nor do I have a daughter who’s getting married. Or even a daughter for that matter. I won’t even be a mother of the bride. So what’s up with the post title?
I’m talking about the movie, the one with Steve Martin, Diane Keaton and Kimberly Williams (1991). If you have not seen this movie, you should. It’s funny, sweet, and in classic Steve Martin style, has some priceless “moments” throughout.
Which brings me to last week. Zach had just come home from a school trip where he spent 3 days away at Mt St Helens with his classmates and teachers. He’s telling me all about about the trip but even though he tells me he enjoyed himself, I can tell there is something wrong. He had been really excited about the trip before they went. So I press him on it.
What happened next is going to be hard to show in writing but I’ll try to give you an idea of how this went down. Anything that is in brackets is what I was thinking, not saying, while he was talking.
Zach: “Well, I found something out and it upset me.”
Me: “What did you find out?”
Zach: “The person that I have a crush on likes someone else.” (okaaaaay, wait, what? what crush? what are we talking about? you told me you didn’t like any of the girls at school... )
Me: “Um, who are we talking about here honey? Just tell me the whole story.”
Zach: “Ok, well, on the way down in the car we were playing ‘truth or dare’ (truth or dare, they still play that? I thought that was a girl thing. Oh man, Zach, what did you DO?!) and I said ‘truth’ (uh-oh) and they asked me if I had a crush on anyone that was in the car (oh, Zach, you didn’t... ) and so I said ‘yes’ (... you did. Dude, seriously?) So then I chose ‘dare’ and Chris said he dared me to tell them who it was (not much of a dare babe, there were only 3 girls in that car and given the options, you may as well have been pointing at her with a big neon sign...). I didn’t do it (orly?) but they knew anyway (no duh). Then I saw that Chris had his arm around her shoulders almost the whole trip down (aw, honey...). People at school had been saying that she and Chris had a ‘thing’ but I wasn’t sure until I saw them on the trip (oh sweetie, you sound so sad). During ‘truth or dare’ (stupid, STUPID game!) she took truth and Chris asked her if she’d rather give up Thai food (at least she has good taste in food) or him... she said Thai food.”
He was crushed, indeed, hence the use of the term in these situations. But this is my Zach and some girl has just broken his heart. He goes on to tell me how he couldn’t sleep very well, he was so upset (she broke his heart. how could she do this? wait, some girl actually broke his heart? he’s not sleeping? this is really not cool... ).
Zach: “I even took her phone number off my phone, I knew she’d never call me anyway and it made me too unhappy to see it there” (you took her number off your phone? you have a phone? when the hell did that happen? wait, oh yeah, but, wait, just... wait... )
BAM. That’s when this happened:
Although instead of a little girl telling her daddy she’s getting married, I saw this little guy
telling me how some girl likes someone else and he can’t sleep and he was so upset he took her number out of his phone. I’m not kidding.
It was then that I realized the milestones we’d both reached. Zach is no longer 7 and wishing that girls would stop following him around. He’s a young man, who has just experienced some very grown-up feelings. When I finally managed to stop seeing this muffin standing in front of me and saw the teenager, I realized that the balance of my job with him had just shifted. In the blink of an eye I went from Macgyver to Mr Miyagi. Less the guy who can fix everything with a twist-tie and more the mentor, the coach, the one who has to give him the tools he needs to be able to deal with things on his own.
I knew I couldn’t make it better, couldn’t make it stop hurting, couldn’t “fix” it for him. All I could do was be there for him and make sure the he understood that these kinds of things should never damage his self-worth. Let him know that there is nothing wrong with him and that all of us have been through it, he is not alone. I also suggested he put her number back in his phone. They are friends. Her liking some other boy right now shouldn’t change that.
This week, he seems to be better friends with Chris and the three of them have been chatting on messenger after homework is done. I know it still hurts, but he is handling it well, friendships have been preserved and he is back to his no-trouble-sleeping, wonderful self.
Wax on, wax off, Zach-san. Wax on, wax off.