I'd like to wring the little shit's neck myself, but I'll have to settle for giving him the stink eye when I chaperone field trips instead.
For clarification, my daughter is 12, her ex-boyfriend, 13. They are in seventh grade.
They "dated" for four months - a pretty good run for a middle school romance.
The kids had a strong base for attraction. They shared a mutual love of singing and the ukulele and they both hated cafeteria food and their third period social studies teacher.
The sum total of their relationship adds up to this:
10,000 texts on Snapchat
10 phone calls (Who actually TALKS on the phone anymore?)
5 hugs in the hallway during class changes
2 blushing admissions of true love
1 box of fruit flavored candy canes (his Christmas present to her)
1 giant Hershey's Chocolate Bar (her Christmas present to him)
1 moment at a chorus rehearsal where the boyfriend sang Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas is You," on a day that my daughter was home with a stomach virus. A million girlish whispers went up that he was singing about Mickey, Mickey, Mickey...AND everyone captured it on their phones and sent the videos to my daughter - which cheered her up and embarrassed them both greatly.
There was also one actual "date" where they met at a theater to see the movie Sing over Christmas holidays.
While they had their date, I took my son to watch Assassin's Creed. I wanted to give the middle schoolers some space for God's sake! I guess his mom was terrified about what might happen if she left her baby boy alone with my tween siren in a PG-rated cartoon though so both she AND his big brother sat with the mortified couple - they even shared their popcorn. SNORT.
By February, it was obvious things were headed south. My daughter's face didn't light up when I mentioned Drew's name anymore. The boyfriend had lied to her more than once, like the time he told her he didn't text her all weekend because he was at a Kung Fu tournament, but then his brother spilled the beans that Drew hadn't even done karate "except on a video game" in years.
Then he stopped texting. And calling. And saying thanks when she bought him an Icee at lunch.
Soon, for her, all that was left was some lackluster hand holding during 10 minute break.
My daughter said she wasn't into it anymore. She was bored. He was being a jerk. What was the point?
I told my daughter that even when you are an adult, relationships take work.
Work and effort to stay connected, to keep it exciting.
And that the amazing, tsunami in your stomach, heat in your cheeks, finger tip tingling love feelings you have for someone at the start of a relationship gradually fade over time to gentle eddies, even with the strongest loves, and that's ok! Because no one could live for years on that kind of emotional roller coaster - it would be too exhausting!
So, we talked about the kindest ways to break up with a boy - gentle things to say to let them down easy because one day that would be her on the receiving end of a dumping and it really hurts. Oh! And to TALK to him about it, no texting, because breaking up over text is just cowardly.
She did it when she got home from school on a Thursday. I was driving home from work. Drew reacted in a spectacularly dramatic fashion, crying and yelling and telling her she couldn't do this, he wouldn't let her do this...she told him she needed to call him back.
She called me, upset. This wasn't going very well. I let her know that she is in control of her decision - NOT him and that no man (or pushy little boy) gets to tell her what she can and can't do when it comes to her life and her heart. I told her to call him back and stick to her guns that it was over.
Five minutes later my phone rings again. I fumble for the cell as I drive. When I answer she is in a panic, sobbing. I can hardly understand her.
"He said he is going to commit suicide! I told him it was over, that I meant it and he said 'Fine. Then I'm going to kill myself' and he hung up.
Mama, he's going to kill himself! What do I do?" The doooooo was a wail.
As a mom, I had to think fast. What do I do? What do I do?
"Mickey, Mickey, I need you to calm down, Mickey, honey..." She was just completely freaking out in the background. She couldn't even hear me over her anxiety. I needed her to be still and listen.
"Shut up, shut UP, SHUT UP!" I yelled at her.
Great parenting moment, that. I never say shut up to anyone. But, my verbal equivalent of a slap hushed the panicked babbling.
My face felt hot, my hands numb.
"Calm down, baby. Take a deep breath. He is NOT going to kill himself," I told her - and I believed it. "He was just saying that to make you stay with him, to get a reaction from you."
'And it's certainly working,' I thought. From what I knew of the boy, this seemed like a nasty little ploy. But, you never know. Just in case...
What to do? What to do?
"I'm calling his mom right now. Is she home? Mickey, is his mom home?"
She didn't know.
"Ok, I am calling his mother. He is not going to hurt himself but I need you to calm down. I'll call you back in a second."
I called his mom.
What to say? What to say? Sometimes you don't have time to write out a lovely script before speaking words like this.
When she picked up - thank God she picked up - the first thing I asked her was whether or not she was at home. If she wasn't in close proximity to him, I was afraid to drop the bomb on her that her 13-year-old said he was going to commit suicide, you know, if she was at the Kroger with a full cart of groceries or something. She was home, thank God she was home.
"Mickey just broke up with Drew," I told her. "She was as gentle as possible but he is not taking it well. He told her he was going to kill himself and hung up on her and now she is really worried about him. I wanted you to know, so you could make sure he was safe. I'm so sorry."
She was super calm. SUPER calm, which leads me to wonder if he hadn't done something like this before. She assured me she would check on him and everything would be fine. I apologized again, feeling a bit helpless and hung up.
I took a deep breath and called my daughter back.
"Is he okay?" she answered, still crying.
"His mom is home, she is going to keep an eye on him. Everything is going to be fine." I told her. Her hiccuping cries slowed a bit.
"I'll be at the house in five minutes" I told her. "I love you. Have fun, be safe." I hung up.
She met me in the entry hall the moment my key turned in the lock, red-faced and puffy-eyed.
"How are you doing?" I asked.
"I'm ok, now" she responded.
Looking at her beautiful, miserable face with her little braces and her cheeks still rounded with a touch of baby fat I wondered 'What do you say to a child, just a child, who thinks she just pushed the button that made someone she cared about want to off themselves? A child who now fears she has the dark power to make someone so sad they want to die?'
Adults don't know how to handle this kind of heavy shit, let alone a little girl, for fuck's sake! What if this made her afraid to ever date again? What if that little asshole screwed her up for life? I pulled her in for a hug for a long moment, stroking her hair and then pushed her away, held her by the shoulders so she had to look at my face.
"Mickey, I need you to listen to me. Here is what I need you to know. This is NOT your fault. Even if Drew killed himself, that would NOT be your fault. If you break up with someone and they hurt themselves, that is because there is already something broken in THEM, something that is bigger than you - bigger than you can control. You may be the last straw, but someone who wants to die because of a broken heart and ACTS on their sadness is someone who needed more help than you could give them."
"I have to tell you, of all the boys I dated, (and here I started counting) of all of them, not a single one, not ONE of them ever said he was going to kill himself when I broke up with them. One guy in college did take to drinking pretty hard for a while and another joined the military soon after we broke up, but now they are married with kids of their own. Breaking up did not ruin their lives. And NO ONE threatened to kill himself."
"This is not a NORMAL thing for a boy to do when you break up and I hate it that you are having to deal with this when you are 12 years old. There is something wrong with DREW, if he was seriously thinking about hurting himself today. And if he wasn't, and he was just using that to try and manipulate you into dating him, well, that is just sick. What decent guy would try to keep a girlfriend with him through fear?"
Her eyes were wide, but she took it all in.
"Ok, now we need to get you to dance class. And afterwards, we'll get ice cream? OK?"
"The brownie sundae?" she asked.
"Whatever you need. You've had a rough afternoon, sweetie pie."
A smile spread across her face and she scampered off to get her dance shoes.
Luckily, when you are 12, you are crazy damn resilient, bouncing back like a rubber band on a trampoline and, after two hours of dance and a giant sundae, and a lot more talking before bedtime, I could tell Mickey was going to be just fine.
Too bad the little boyfriend can't seem to move on. That weekend he texted her and told her that even though he knew she was a liar, he was going to forgive her and be her friend. And he keeps talking to all his friends - and hers - about what a "lying bitch" she is. I'd like to wash the little prick's mouth out with soap. He says she lied about ever caring about him (For FOUR months? Sure.) Luckily everyone's getting sick of his lip.
At lunch the other day, when Mickey strolled up with her tray, there was just one seat left at their table, next to Drew. Middle school, what hell. A pot stirring drama queen had purposely sat in another seat that day to force my daughter to sit by her ex. When Mickey asked the girl to scoot over, she said with a look of pure innocence, "What's the problem with you sitting next to Drew?"
Drew looked at her mockingly. "Yeah, what's the problem, Mickey?"
Mickey replied "Why don't you tell me. I'm not the one that can't get over being dumped by somebody. Why you gotta be so salty? I don't want any drama with you, but you can't stop bad mouthing me to all your friends. It's over. It's been over for six weeks. I just want you to leave me alone."
This raised a chorus of appreciative Ooohs around them and another young man moved his tray so she could sit where she wanted.
Good for her. Standing up for herself, not taking shit off a rotten boy. I'd like to believe she gets that from her mama.
I think, for a 12 year old, she's got this covered.
Now if I can just convince her not to date anyone else until she's 30. I don't know that my heart can take the drama!