h2>Dating : Dating Advice From A Twelve-Year-Old
If you’ve read my articles “Good Teacher, Bad Teacher” and “The Art Of Deception” you’ll know that being a teacher tends to put you in some unexpected situations.
That afternoon was no exception.
I stood behind the detention bench, supervising my only inmate for the day — a big kid called Spencer. He was only 12, but already had the broad shoulders of a football player. I glanced down at the report book.
Saying inappropriate things to classmates.
It didn’t sound like him. I sat on the edge of the desk next to him.
“How come you’re detention?”
He stopped writing, looking up.
“Ms Blake told Principal Walsh I said bad things.”
He shook his head.
“Then what did you say?”
His emerald eyes glinted.
“I’m not saying. Don’t want to get into trouble a second time.”
“C’mon,” I reassured him. “Would I play that dirty?”
His face grew serious.
“I was telling the boys how many girlfriends I’ve had.”
I couldn’t help laughing. Ms Blake had always been uptight. There were jokes in the staffroom about how she wouldn’t go to confession for fear of being alone in the room with a man.
“Things like that are best discussed between guys.” I smiled at Spencer.
“Girlfriends. I’ve had fourteen girlfriends.”
He was probably lying, but this was getting interesting.
“How old were you when you had your first ‘girlfriend’?”
“Eleven. It’s been a hectic year.”
That’s an average of 1–2 girlfriends a month. If it was true, this boy was going places.
As an adult, I’d only been in 3 serious relationships, and even if I counted all the short flings, I’d struggle to get over 10.
“Bet most of your friends are jealous.”
He didn’t bother looking up from his writing.
“A bit. But it’s their fault. They don’t listen when I tell them the secret.”
I’m all ears at this point.
“Okay superstar, what’s your secret?”
He looked up, dropping his pencil.
“Confidence. Whether she’s ten, or thirty, all women like a confident man. The fact you aren’t afraid to speak your mind wins their heart over. You’re not chasing them, not trying to win their approval. That makes you more attractive.”
“Where’d you learn all this?” I asked, still unable to believe what I’d just heard.
I had to ask.
“Have you ever been rejected?”
“Of course, all the time. Most girls my age are still immature. They’ll do something stupid like write me a love letter, then never talk to me again. It’s cause they don’t know how to handle strong feelings yet.”
“Doesn’t it bother you?”
“Plenty of other spicy fish in the sea. Who cares, whatever.”
I’d never met a grown man that self-assured, let alone a kid. At his age, I used to get butterflies talking to our next-door neighbour’s daughter.
“Boys get stuck in their own head sometimes,” he went on, underlining the title of his essay. “Insecurities get to them, little things that girls pick up on.”
“What about you? Isn’t there anything that bothers you?” I asked. “Anything that makes you insecure?”
He held his hands out, like he was presenting himself to an audience.
“I’ve got a girl’s voice, I’m overweight, and my bottom half is too small for my body. We all have insecurities.”
I watched as he packed his things.
“Well, not all my bottom half is that small.” He added with a cheeky smile. “Can I go now?”
His footsteps echoing down the corridor as I sent him off home.
Dating is a trial and error thing. Whether it’s an awkward dinner, a fun fling, or what you thought was the start of a great love story (only for it to come crashing down days later), every encounter teaches you something.
How had a twelve-year-old mastered the art some adults spend their entire life perfecting?
Spencer, wherever you are, I hope your confidence hasn’t changed one bit.