My husband and I went on a double date with my son and his soon-to-be first girlfriend (it was their first date). I didn’t think about the magnitude of that until a day or so afterward, i.e., who actually wants to go on their first real date with parents? (They had been “hanging out” at school and school events for quite some time.)
It was Saturday and my son, who had stayed home from his dad’s that weekend because he didn’t want to miss his baseball practice the following day, was just hanging around by himself. My husband and I had been talking about going to a minor league ball game so I told my son, “Why don’t you see if So-and-so wants to go to the game with us.” I did not ask him if he wanted to, I kind of told him, assumptively.
“Oh, I don’t know, I think she’s in the city with her sister…”
“Ask her when she’ll be home and let us know so we can get the tickets.”
Then I left to walk the dog.
When I got back, my husband and son were reviewing the stadium seating chart. I guessed she said yes. I let them figure out the rest of it. My husband informed me what time we had to leave and I went about my business.
Sometime later, my son approached me and told me, “Mom, please don’t do or say anything weird.”
“What do you mean, ‘weird’?” I asked him.
He couldn’t really explain it, other than telling me sometimes I can be weird, so I gathered that he just didn’t really want me having any conversations at all with this young lady. I figured that might make for a rather uncomfortable car ride, but it didn’t really. They talked between themselves, as did my husband and I.
When we got to the stadium, we handed my son the tickets and $20 and told him and his friend to have a nice time. We weren’t sitting together — they had seats in the next section over, though I could keep an eye on them (my husband called me Mrs. Kravitz, who for people that never watched Bewitched, was the nosy neighbor).
It might have been after the game, or the next day when he asked me, “Do you like her, Mom?” I told him it was hard for me to tell since I didn’t really talk to her (ahem), but that she seemed very nice and the important thing was that he liked her. “I just want you to be happy, hon.”
Later that week, at his school baseball game, I crossed paths with his girlfriend again. The fact that she attended was pretty significant since she isn’t a fan of baseball as much as she is of my son, apparently: The game she attended with us was her first ever. In fact, my son told me I didn’t even need to come to the game since he was going to do something with his girlfriend afterward and her parents were picking them up.
I told him, “Don’t be silly, I love to watch you play and this is one of the only times all season I can!” (because of the general household baseball schedule with everyone including my husband playing, which is another story you can read here). My son instructed me how to act around his girlfriend. “You can say hi to her but don’t sit with her, she’s shy.”
I thought back to when I had my first boyfriend, and yeah, it’s awkward. You don’t know what to call the parents. Is it “Mr.” or “Mrs.” or by their first names? It was harder for us to call the house since the phone was attached to the wall and there was usually only one number — everyone did not have a personal phone in his or her pocket at all times — so I never knew who would answer.
And now, it’s awkward for me as a mom, as my older two boys have their first serious relationships with girls (I’ll have to write about my other son’s first girlfriend another time — it’s clandestine because the young lady’s parents don’t allow her to “date” so they’re just friends, but I know their friendship is important to my son because he cranked up “Die a Happy Man” on the radio today in the car).
I worry that anything I say or don’t say will be embarrassing to them or their girlfriends. I know it’s excruciating enough when their friends make comments. But then I remember that my mere presence is no doubt embarrassing, and one of the absolute MOST IMPORTANT things I can do if I want to keep the lines of communication open is NOT joke around about how “cute” or “sweet” their relationships are. Just act natural and like it’s normal.
But I won’t lie and say I didn’t feel a bit of a pang when my son looked up from the field after the game and it wasn’t me he was looking for in the crowd, but his girlfriend. There’s a good bit of letting go involved there. But this is not about me, it’s about my boys and their happiness. All I want for them is to be happy (and productive, law-abiding members of society).
A version of this story originally appeared on Coffee Talk.