I have a dream one day of teaching a class for high school girls. I haven't decided on a name for the class, but I'm waffling between 'You Don't Need a Boyfriend 101' and 'For the Love of God, Enjoy Being Young and Single'. I'm not sure which would have a better chance at being passed by the Board of Directors.
Today a student, A, came to my classroom during the break to tell me about her new 'boyfriend'. They met online. He's eighteen. He's not in school. Stays out all night partying, but text messages A all day while she's at school. I don't think I need to go on.
A, like so many teenage girls, is struggling to find herself. She seeks attention from any place she can find it. She's sure her parents have no idea what her life is like. She gets taken advantage of by her so-called friends. She's only happy when she's got the attention of a guy. I don't think I need to go on.
'Is he a good guy?' I asked her.
'Yes,' she said.
'How do you know?'
'How do you know he's a good guy?' I repeated.
This threw her. 'Umm... well, he really likes me. Like today when I told him I had to work on a science project with a bunch of guys he was like all jealous and stuff.'
I don't think I need to go on.
I told her I was going to go interview this guy to see if he was worthy of her. I wanted to see his bank statements. I wanted to know his relationship with his mother. I wanted to know his plans for school, how he was going to help encourage A pass her English class (which she is failing miserably), how he votes now that he's of age, and if understands the laws for statutory rape in this state.
'Man, Mrs. C. You're going to be a strict Mom!' another student, who had overheard our conversation, said. The girls laughed and began to walk away.
I thought back to my own high school days, when the girl I looked at in the mirror was not all that different from A. I had an incredible ability to tune out the advice of people whom I respected. I look back on my life and think about how all the bonehead decisions I made (along with some not-so-bonehead ones) made me into the woman in her thirties that I am. So I admitted that my 'Don't Waste Your Time With Losers' class for girls would be poorly received, as those lessons are only learned through heartbreak and tears of one's own.
All I could say to A before she was out of earshot was, 'Okay, maybe I won't interview him. But you should! With those same questions! Promise me?'
She said she would think about it, and that's all I could ask for. I could have gone on... but I guess I didn't need to.