My five-year old daughter decided to ask me a question about dating while I was taking a shower. She asks a lot of questions and has been known to interrogate me when I am indisposed. Her little voice piped through the bathroom as she swung the door open wide, letting in a waft of cold air.
“Mama, do you have to be married to go on a date?”
My husband and I had recently gone on a “date,” which is always a big deal in our house. We have to plan the date for weeks in advance to make sure neither of us has other commitments and to schedule one of our preferred babysitters. So now my little one equates dating with being married.
I tell her over the sounds of the shower, “No Sweetheart, lots of people who aren’t married go on dates.”
“Do you have to marry the person you date?”
“Can we wait and talk about this when I get out of the shower?”
“But if I don’t ask now, I’ll forget.”
I can understand. My brain often works like that too. “Okay then, no you don’t have to marry the person you date.”
“Then why do people date?”
Now I have conditioner in my eyes and all I can think about is how I can hurry this little conversation along and I say the sentence that has since come back to bite me. “Dating is like shopping for shoes, Dear.”
“What do you mean Mama?”
“Well, you know when you shop for shoes, you have to try on the shoes, see if they fit, see if they’re comfortable for everyday or just for special occasions.” I was on a roll with my simile now. “You want to see if they’re constructed to last or if they’ll fall apart at the seams. It helps if they’re attractive too and flexible enough to go with more than one of your outfits. Of course, you want to make sure they’re worth the price– you have to live with your choice afterall. Understand?”
“Yeah, sure Mama.” And she was off to play with her sister.
I reveled in my own cleverness for most of the day, until later that evening my daughter overheard my husband and I arguing, over what I can’t even remember now.
“Daddy!” she interrupted. “Can’t you see Mama’s feet hurt. Do you want her to have to go shopping again?”
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