Your daughter’s been asked on her first date! She’s excited, she’s nervous, she’s unsure, and she needs you…not to embarrass her! Do you remember the time your own mother, wearing acid washed jeans and leg warmers, answered the knock of the eighth-grade John Travolta-lookalike who had finally asked you to a movie? Or what about when she sent the two of you off with a peck on HIS cheek and a cheery “Be good, kids?” Do you also recall that there was no second date?
By following a few simple rules, you can ensure that your daughter doesn’t remember YOU as the reason her first date didn’t lead to a second.
1. Preparation, yours as well as your daughter’s, for a first date begins well before the boy/guy/young man rings your doorbell. And yes, he must knock or ring that doorbell. Do not allow your daughter to dash out the door in response to a honk, text, or cell phone summons. If you cannot obtain her cooperation in this matter, discontinue reading immediately and return to Parenting 101. For the rest of you, establish a reasonable curfew for your daughter in advance. Assure her that discussing when everyone else must be home while her date stands in the doorway and stares at his shoes would not be a good idea.
2. Review your daughter’s clothing choices. Tell her that you don’t want to whisper in her ear about a visible pink thong or tuck a wayward bra strap into her tank top while her date stands in the doorway and DOESN’T stare at his shoes.
3. Review YOUR clothing choices. Avoid visible thongs, wayward bra straps, and leggings with above-the-hip shirts. “Mom” jeans should only be worn as a last resort.
4. Mashing tuna fish or chopping onions should be avoided for at least six hours before the date’s arrival. Kitchen smells of lasagna or tomato sauce, especially the homemade kind, are acceptable. Freshly baked brownies or sugar cookies are even better. Peanut butter is iffy.
5. If you have a husband or significant other, outlaw vintage rock band t-shirts, too-short jeans that expose dingy sweat socks or hairy ankles, and snoring on the couch or anywhere within earshot of the front door.
6. About ten minutes before the young man’s scheduled arrival, inspect the area surrounding the entrance to your home. Remove all abandoned sneakers and forgotten book bags. Persuade any crotch-sniffing dogs or hissing cats that you might own to perform these behaviors away from your front door. Any runaway hamsters or unaccounted-for gerbils should have been rounded up earlier in the day. Enlist the aid of other family members, friends, or interested parties as needed.
7. Take a few calming breaths shortly before arrival time. Think yoga, not Lamaze. This is an opportunity to spend “quality time” with your daughter; invite her to join you. Navel contemplation or the chanting of “Om” is optional.
8. Knock, ring, or buzz…Whether you greet your daughter’s date at the door or are introduced to him a few moments later, meet his nervous gaze with a smile. In this case, “smile” does not mean the full-toothed, apple-cheeked grin you display in response to your brother-in-law’s “Cheese!” Nor does it mean the thin line that you press your lips into when your four year-old nephew’s spill-proof sippy cup leaks grape juice onto your off-white couch. Aim for the midway point between Mona Lisa and Jack-O-Lantern.
9. Allow the young “couple”, although it might be best to avoid using that “c” word when thinking about your daughter and a young man with big feet and even bigger shoulders, to exit quickly.
a. Do not bring out the photo album with pictures of your pre-orthodontia, buck-toothed daughter.
b. Do not call your daughter “honey bunch” or “sweetie pie.”
c. And do not kiss her big-footed, big-shouldered date, even if he looks like a “honey bunch” or a “sweetie pie.”
10. After a polite “Have a good time,” close the door, repeat calming breaths, which may now be accompanied by a glass of merlot (or pinot grigio, if you prefer), congratulate yourself on a job well done, and remember that you never have to survive your daughter’s first date again, that is unless the ‘family member’ who helped you put away the book bags and sneakers, find the missing gerbil, and keep the rambunctious cat or dog away from the front door is…your younger daughter!