How Will I Know?

I am a single father of an eighteen-year-old daughter … or was. She graduated and moved on to the Navy. She has always seemed somewhat immature in the ways of the world, although later I came to understand that it was not immaturity that I saw but a silent maturity, not brash and sixteen talking 25.

She had a attraction for boys but never more than friends. We had recently moved here from Texas. Historically her boy friends were back in Texas so when she announced she had a boy friend the question was here or back in Texas. The answer was typically “back home.” I didn’t have to be too overly concerned about that. That lulled me in to a false sense that there would be time. I was always pretty proactive about sex talk … not being shy or prone to euphemistic side stepping.

Shortly after the first of the year she found a great boy friend HERE. I took the sort of comedic panicked dad approach and met him ad the door on their first date night with a hearty hand shake. “Come on in,” I said to him. “You are not going to be having sex with my daughter tonight are you?” His stunned silence swallowed the moment.

The way I came to understand that he was a great kid was his answer. He assured me that he was attracted to her but that he was college bound and that he didn’t want to mess up his scholarships and all. He has a real passion for his direction in life and it showed. He didn’t shy away from the topic at all. My daughter was mortified of course.

Time passed and they dated more.

Eventually the question came up from my daughter: “How will I know when it’s right?”

I said that the time and place will be right for your first time … deep breath … loonnnng pause … when you can stand in that place and time with authority and know that you are not doing any thing wrong. You will know that no one can punish you because you are not a child being caught with “your fingers in a cookie jar,” and when you are relaxed, as relaxed as can be, about the situation and the place. You know that complete authority is yours and are not ashamed in the situation.

I said that if your privacy were to be compromised you could stand tall and not be ashamed because this is your time and your place. I added that this situation should not be reached or pushed until you have talked with your partner about some future and you are as sure as you can be that he is not going to forget you tomorrow after you have given him something of yourself you can not get back. Your virginity is a gift that can only be given to one person … ever. It would be a tragedy if that person discarded you and your gift like a Christmas fruitcake.

I was feeling pretty good about that answer … so I went on but I think I goofed it. I shared with her some of her mother’s past and her experiences with youth molestation and how they affected her and her sexuality. I went in to some short bits about her high school days and the like. I explained that when her mother and I were working towards having a child I had wanted a daughter so that we could raise a girl who was strong and confident in herself and her sexuality, not pre-weighted with hang-ups and unwanted baggage that would take years of self reflection and therapy to undo.

I tend to ramble and at some point I noticed her eyes had glazed over and dilated and was becoming unresponsive. It had gone from a conversation to a lecture. I realized that in the future answers to questions like this should be spaced out over several conversations so as to avoid overload. Unfortunately for me I had run out of time. Graduation was upon us and then she was gone.

Don’t let that happen to you.