Q: How Do You Get Your Teenager to be Sweet Again?

A: Let her go on a date

She’ll be fifteen very soon—so soon, she’s planning her birthday party. But for now, she’s still fourteen. And she doesn’t look it. Ask anyone. Last month when she was trying on dresses for the Winter Formal dance, the saleswoman kept bringing sophisticated, low-cut, sexy dresses to the dressing room.

“Can you please stop bringing these little numbers that make her look like a dominatrix?” I asked. “She’s only fourteen.”

Our assistant, herself barely beyond her teens, dropped her jaw. “OMG!” she gasped. “I thought she was at least seventeen!”

I’m not sure at what age a dominatrix outfit becomes appropriate, but when we added the three-inch heels to the little black dress we ultimately chose, this six-foot blonde did not look like a freshman on her way to her first high school dance.

Every parent of teenagers will warn you how quickly they grow up. When you’re carting around sweet, little babies or have a toddler grasping your hand and smiling at strangers who admire them, you may hear the words “just wait!” a few too many times. We also heard, “You’re going to have your hands full!” and “Better get your shotgun ready for when the boys come calling.”

Our daughter was not comfortable with the attention she received when first starting high school. Not only did we feel she was too young to date, she also knew she wasn’t ready. But last night, something changed. She said “okay;” and we said “okay,” and no one had to hunt down a shotgun. All the rules were met, the formalities observed, and the only thing her daddy asked the boy was, “are you a good driver?”

“I’m an excellent driver,” he said. And he drove her home a few minutes before her curfew. Everyone was happy.

With our seventh grader away at a party and our freshman on a date, that meant we had the house to ourselves, and it was a lovely evening in front of the fireplace for mommy and daddy. We recalled how many times we’d heard the words, “Just wait!” and couldn’t help but smile.

Was this what we were waiting for?

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