Young Love | The Incident | Do Fools Rush In?


Young Love

Dear Ask Micah,

Is it really possible for my 14 year old to be as “in love” as she claims to be? She’s so dramatic about every little tiff and make up.  Its silly to me.  I don’t believe a 14 yr old can comprehend what love really is yet.

Doubtful

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Dear Doubtful,

Maybe you’ve forgotten, but when you are 14 the love you feel is often even greater than what we feel at 30.  Everything is intensified and magnified and I don’t doubt that your 14 year old is hopelessly head over heels in love.  If she’s behaving like a dramatic idiot, it’s only because she doesn’t yet possess enough experience to understand that every little fight won’t lead to the relationship’s doom.

In her young new world, the love she feels is the most important thing in her life, and any risks to it are as dire to her as being given six months to live would be for us.  It appears silly to those of us who have matured and grown up and realized that even broken hearts mend, but we had to act like that ourselves and go through the same stage she’s going through to get to this place.  S0, just roll your eyes in private and play along with her.  This is an important time in her life where she will need a parent to guide her through the rough spots.  She isn’t going to take any advice you give seriously if she feels as  if you don’t take her love seriously.

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The Incident

Dear Micah,

My sister’s son used to stay overnight from time to time to have a sleepover with my son.  On his last sleepover they both got into an argument and my husband intervened.  My husband is a get to the point kind of guy and just punished them instead of working it out.  Since that night my nephew doesn’t want to spend the night anymore.  He and my son go to school together and play together at school so I know they worked it all out between them.  I think my nephew is afraid of my husband now and doesn’t feel safe in our house.  What can I do to rectify this situation?

P.

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Dear P.,

I don’t want to spend too much time attacking your husband, although I do plan to spend some time doing so.  Let’s clarify your use of descriptives first…Your husband isn’t a “get to the point kind of guy” if he went straight to punishing the boys instead of talking out the issue.  Getting to the point would actually mean that he sat them down and discovered what the argument was about and settled it by explaining each boy’s viewpoint to the other and having them come to a meeting of the minds.  Just whipping them or yelling at them doesn’t “get to the point.”

Because of the way he handled the conflict between the boys, I believe that you are 100% correct in your conclusion that he is the reason for your nephew’s newfound avoidance of your household.  However, I don’t think your nephew is afraid of your husband.  I think he was so embarrassed by the episode that now your home is a symbol of that last bad memory.  I’m so glad you wrote about this, because it’s something that is important for adults to keep in mind when we are around other people’s children.  As parents, we are the guardians of our children’s futures, and that entails some amounts of discipline and lectures and embarrassing situations.  There’s no way around that.  Parents are destined to leave a few emotional scars on their kids in order to raise them properly.  But when the child is not from your own household–the child is a niece or nephew, or grandchild, or neighbor–then we have to be very careful that we don’t cast any emotional scars that mar their lives and memories.

Let me explain with an example from my own childhood, and maybe you’ll understand what I’m talking about.  When I was a child, I spent most of my weekends with grandparents.   For me, my grandparents’ house was a place of love and fun and freedom.  I enjoyed being around them, and many of my best life memories derive from time with grandparents.  One of our favorite activities was card playing.  We used to spend hours playing a card game called Rook.  It was during one of these Rook games in which I received a childhood scar like the one your nephew got from your husband.  My grandfather was a wonderful man, and he loved us all very much.  However, he also had an explosive temper which reared its head every now and then.  I had never personally witnessed one of his tirades, although I had heard many tales of when he’d “act a fool.”

Anyway, one night while playing this card game, he exploded on me.  I don’t really recall the specific details of what occurred to set him off.   It was something really innocent–like my grandmother and I were ribbing him because he was losing, or I had forgotten to lead off with one of my “trumps,” or I was talking too much and wasn’t paying attention to what had been played–I’m not really sure, I just know it was some kind of innocent kid mistake I’d made.  The point is that my grandfather flew into a rage, yelled at me, told me he was never going to play cards with me again, and then stormed off into the next room.  I was mortified.  I was just 9 or 10, and I wasn’t sure what I had done wrong.  All I knew is that I had made him “hate me” and I was so embarrassed.  I just wanted to go home.  My grandmother was very sweet and tried to make things better, and in my grandfather’s defense, he felt ashamed of the way he acted and tried to make it up to me.  He even asked me to forgive him and wanted us to forget all about it.  I agreed, but I never forgot.

It took me weeks to feel good about going back to their house, even though it had been like a second home to me.  And to this day, whenever I think about my grandfather, this memory comes to mind.  Don’t get me wrong–it’s not the first memory that comes to mind.  I don’t define him by that one moment.  When I think of him, I always think of him as the man who picked me up from school and took me for Icees, the man who told me stories and took me fishing, the man who picked out the best pieces of fish or chicken at the dinner table to put on my plate (no matter how many other grandkids were around).  He was the man who taught me how to drive and he was the man who worried himself sick when I moved to Birmingham because he was afraid of the traffic–or perhaps it was my driving.  I have so many wonderful golden memories of this almost perfect man, but still I cannot shake the one and only negative one either.

So, my point is that sometimes one single incident can leave a lifelong scar on a child that never goes away.  I believe that your nephew came away from your home with one of those scars.  For the rest of his life, he will always go to that memory whenever he thinks about your husband.  That is never going to go away.  He won’t be able to forget it.  So all you can do is try to get your husband to build some additional, more positive, memories to go along with it.  Maybe have him take the boys fishing, or to the movies, or to play paint ball.  Find some kind of activity that will simultaneously lure the nephew into giving your household another chance and help to lay some good times over that bad memory.  And let your husband know that he needs to work on how he handles highly emotional situations with children because his solutions may be causing more harm than the original conflict would have.

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Do Fools Rush In?

Dear Micah,

For the last few years I have had something of a dating dry spell.  Even though I was getting accustomed to being by myself and was okay with it, I never thought of myself as lonely because I have many great friends.  What I didn’t have was a love life.  All that just changed.  I met a man who claims he is in love with me.  I could feel the same way except it has all happened so fast.   I’m not used to things moving at this rate. People who rush into romantic involvements willy nilly always make me cringe a little.  I don’t know if this is too soon to call it love or not.  He seems great in every way and acts like he genuinely cares for me.  He might be an axe murderer, I don’t know.  My question for you is how do I explain such a fast track relationship to people when they ask?  I don’t want to look like a crazy person.  And another question is should we be taking it this fast or is there a way you can tell me to slow it down until I can think straight?  Everything just happened within a week!

Natasha (not my real name)

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Dear Natasha,

I will go way out on a limb here a say that he probably isn’t an axe murderer.  However, if you end up a feature story on Dateline, don’t let your next of kin sue me.  Seriously, though, just go with it.  Yes, a week is a short time for most couples to meet, connect, and commit.  Typically those kinds of whirlwind romances burn out quickly, but remember I said that outcome applies for “most couples.”  There are always those few out there that are the exception.  You can make the statement that 89% of all whirlwind romances result in break ups, but what if you are part of the lucky 11%?  You won’t know unless you see it, through.  I am in the 11%.  My partner and I fell in love and committed on the second date over 14 years ago.  It hasn’t fallen apart so far.

Sometimes love does happen instantly, although I do understand why you cringe when you see people claim that it has happened to them.  So many people out there are so desperate for a storybook love that they try to pass off every relationship as “the one.”  In the end, they just look foolish because they’ve met “the one” seven or eight times with no success.  You aren’t one of those people, so don’t bother worrying about what other people are going to think.  I doubt very seriously that anyone is going to make assumptions that you just leapt “willy nilly” at this man.  Obviously there was something special about him if he jolted you out of your dry dock.  As for whether or not you are moving too fast, who cares as long as you’re moving?  Sitting still and being alone is not any fun, so start moving.  If he wants to move a little faster than you are accustomed to, so be it.  Go with it and have some fun and don’t worry about anything.  I always say, “Fall in love as often,  and with as many people as you can, so that you’ll know the right one when it comes along.”  This man may be the right one for you.  Maybe he isn’t, but if not, then at least you had a whirlwind romance to talk about.  It’s better to have a broken heart than one that never flutters at all.

 

If you have a question you’d like to Ask Micah, send it to MicahCargo@hotmail.com.

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