Last night, before bedtime, my 10 year old daughter snuggled up to me, looked deep into my eyes and whispered “Mom, you’ve done this before so you will know……ummm….how do you get a boy you like, to notice you?” And my heart stopped…..

And I saw a dark tunnel with a faint light at the end of it as a primordial scream rose in my throat  NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!! It can’t be that time already, she’s too young, sweet, innocent! I will drop kick the first boy that breaks her heart! I will cut his liver out with a blunt spoon and eat it with a nice chianti and some Lima beans and not bat an eyelid. The last one I got from Hannibal Lecter but it has a nice ring to it.

I also then flash-backed to my preteen self – and my heart plummeted to new depths because – and this is really hard to admit and probably doesn’t gel with the supremely confident and self-possessed individual I am today – I was a complete and utter dork! And when I asked my own mother for advice, she responded by saying “abhyasavar lakshya thev” – focus on your studies! Thanks mom – see how this is coming to bite me in the ass!!

In the meantime my daughter was expecting advice from a veteran – someone who had sage, wise things to say about how to talk to preteen boys – this is a freaking nightmare! Right then, suit up Mommy dearest, gird your loins, coz this is what separates the girls from the women! Oh Maya, of course I’ve done this before and here’s how you too can be the preteen femme fatale that your mother was – listen closely. When you are around a boy you like, do one of two things – either guffaw loudly like a hyena in heat or ignore him to the point of rudeness – yup that always worked for me because astonishingly those two things attract hella lot of preteen boys – never fails!

But, my daughter had asked me a serious question and, whatever my own insecurities and fears and desires to protect her, I owed her an honest answer. So, while chanting to myself – don’t screw this up, don’t screw this up – I said – honey, just be yourself. Don’t be what you think someone else wants you to be, don’t try and be more interesting, funnier, prettier, smarter, dumber, sillier – just be true to who you are. If you are a dorky kid, be that dorky kid, if you laugh loudly, don’t try and smother it, if you make funny faces when you talk, go ahead and do it. Because, someone is going to like you for your special unique snowflakeyness and that person will think that the sun rises and sets with you, and he or she will not care if you are quiet and shy, or loud and proud – because you will be the most honest person they know and that will be what matters.

And…. I’m pretty sure that was the most mealy-mouthed, piece-of-crap, piss-poor advice in the history of man – I mean, be yourself??! BE YOURSELF??! What kind of self-help, Cosmo-craptastic, asinine, dim-witted, sanctimonious, preachy, bull shit is that??! I’m 41 and I still have insecurities about myself – how is a 10 year old supposed to have the presence of mind, and maturity, and self-confidence to be herself??!! Be yourself – seriously – I might as well have told her to be a cross-dressing yeti!

And then I went to my room and cried – not pretty sparkly tears like in the movies, but just snotty, gasping, heaving ones because little did she know that my heart had broken. Not in a terrible, sad, depressing way, but because it could not contain the sheer ocean of love and terror and hope and worry and concern that threatened to rip my thoracic cavity. I thought going through the preteen and puberty years myself was effing hard but watching your kids go through it – what fresh hell is this??!


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