Long before the concept of a boyfriend entered my daughter’s vocabulary, she had a request, “Mommy, I want a play date with him,” she said when I picked her up from pre-school at noon. “Sure,” I replied, pleased that she wanted her best friend over, but worried about entertaining him. He was super bright, incredibly nice, but he had never been on a play date.
I called up his mother and convinced her to let him come over. Trains were his passion, I found out, so I set to work. We would have a Train Day, and decorate T-shirts with pictures of trains, build trains from blocks, make Train Sandwiches, you name it.
The play date was a hit, everyone had a marvelous time, and best of all, he wanted to return. His mom was amazed. It was The Perfect Play Date.
Now I am wondering if I can pull it off again, but this time in a different iteration: my older daughter is bringing home The Boyfriend.
I would like to say I have never met him, that I am a clean slate to him, but that would be—as my very polite father would say, an “untruth”. I did meet him last summer, or shall we say he met me, when I visited her at the place where she spent the summer working—on an island in a lake in New England.
Three of us stayed overnight—all that was allowed—and in the morning said our goodbyes to her at the dock. I managed to keep it together until I held her in my arms. Then great big salty tears came out of nowhere, rolled down my face and fell splat onto the wooden planks at our feet. I wouldn’t be seeing her for another six weeks, and then only for four days before she zipped off to college again. I stroked her hair and hugged her harder. “I miss you,” I whispered. “I love you, Baby Girl.” “I love you, too, Mommy.” I reluctantly let go and climbed into the motorboat. The kid at the wheel, thankfully, did not make eye contact—but surely he was aware that the entire ride back to shore I was sobbing.
It was The Boyfriend.
I learned this several months ago when she called to tell me she was seeing him, that she had been in the relationship for a while. “Why didn’t you tell me? “ I protested. “I thought you told me everything!” “I didn’t want to jinx it.” Apparently my Baby Girl is growing up.
So now The Boyfriend is coming home to our house with her for Thanksgiving Break, four days of marinating in our company. I am in a flurry of excitement and nervous sweat. Will I have the perfect play date again? Will he like us? Will he like me? Will I embarrass her? I have issued, in stages, to-do lists to the others in the family—to their occasional amusement and their occasional rebellion. Yesterday I was informed that I will get a to-do list if I do this again!
[Related: THIS is the most important thing to have on your to-do list when your college kid comes home.]
My older daughter has given me instructions: no letting on that I know The Boyfriend is a picky eater even though he really is one, no talking baby talk to the cats or indulging in what she calls my “cat obsession”, no “clingy behavior”. Meanwhile, my younger daughter is busy reassuring me that I will, indeed, pass The Boyfriend’s scrutiny and make this another perfect play date. “He is nice, Mommy,” she says. “You’ll see.”