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We also couldn’t foresee cyberbullying or nude selfies or any of the pitfalls teens face coming of age with the internet, but there were plenty of worries we share culled from our own analog adolescent experiences. I watched other, more confident girls pair up with boys in our class and I wanted in.
So we plotted how to be the kind of parents who could talk with our daughter about the things we could never talk about with our own well-meaning parents. I went so far as to make getting a boyfriend my New Year’s resolution, announcing my intention to my two best friends.
On first Valentine’s Day as a couple, nearly one year later, he gave her a pair of glittery sneakers she wore until holes tore through their soles.
They’re now high school juniors, almost 17, and they’re still together.
Better, I wanted to tell her, to focus on something else.
But then she started dating the most popular boy in her class, a boy named Max.
They understand that it’s not a good idea to go off to college attached to someone else. Just as I didn’t know not to get into that car or go into that locked art studio, I never would have known that what I needed was change and space and a fresh start.
But there is one thing I’m pretty sure I do know that she does not. I believe that when the day comes for her to leave for college, the day that she and Max go their separate ways, I can finally be useful to her.
(Don’t do anything just because you hear it’s what other girls are doing.
Don’t get into a car with a boy you don’t know well, and think twice even with the ones you do.