As some of you know, my fiancee's 13-year-old daughter Emily blew out her knee in an accident last week. While the prognosis is good, a more insidious result of this injury has emerged. As she has been home from school the last week, her friends have been visiting, bringing well wishes and gifts. All of this would be fine, except for one small detail.
Two of them are boys.
Now I would like to preface this by admitting that I am being completely irrational. She's 13, which means she's definitely starting to entertain the idea of romantic relationships. I understand this logically. But every time these little shaggy-haired bastards deign to poke their heads into the house, voices cracking as they ask if Emily is home, the logical side of my brain clocks out, and the violent part of my psyche that finds the idea of punting teenage boys through our screen door funny seems to roar to the front.
The problem is, I remember what I was like at that age, and that terrifies me. Emily is not my natural daughter, but for four years, she and her younger sister Hannah have been mine. Their father isn't around much, so I'm the one that helps with homework, cleans up bruises, tucks them in, buys them birthday and Christmas presents, and goes to school concerts and plays. They don't call me dad, but when they refer to their parents, it's Jen and me they're talking about. And as I've learned the ropes of being a parent, I've learned that rationality and logic tend to fly out the window when I'm worried about the girls.
This is the first time that I've been confronted with the fact that within the next few years, Emily will be dating. So far, my response to these two visiting has been to sit in the same room the entire time they're here, glaring and calling them "Dorothy" and "Susan".