rites of passage

This was the school year during which my daughter first told me she had a boyfriend. In fact, it was the first year she even expressed interest in any boy.

Her boyfriend, who I met on more than one occasion, was painfully shy. He came to dinner and giggled across the table at my son, eyes and body averted from my daughter to his side.

I suspect the whole of this fifth grade “dating” experience had more to do with status than anything else. “Going with” a boy meant being liked, being chosen. It meant being part of a special group, along with her best friends who had also been chosen.

I suppose it should have come as no surprise that, in the last several weeks of school, my girl told me she had broken up with her boyfriend… My daughter called her guy over during recess and told him, “This isn’t working out.” As it turned out, many of the fifth-grade couples had split — all at the girls’ initiation — within days of each other.

The mothers and I sat around after a school event one evening and discussed this phenomenon, suddenly realizing it wasn’t all that different from what we would have done as we reached the end of middle school or high school or, in many cases, college. After all, who wants to be tied down when something new and exciting is around the corner? And, I hate to say it, but especially when that new and exciting thing includes a whole new group of boys, older boys.

Single is the new status symbol…at least until middle school starts.


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