I remember many, many years ago, when I had my first real high-school crush. My best friend and I had a crush on the same young man. He was a junior and we were freshmen. I felt that I had a better chance at dating him because he lived in my neighborhood. My best friend and I found ourselves in a bit of friendly competition over this young man, not realizing the potential hazards to ourselves and our friendship.
Life was much “safer” then and we, as children, roamed the neighborhood on bikes and on foot, with our parents worrying little to none as to our whereabouts. I often rode or strolled by this young man’s house, believing that the more I was in his sight, the higher my probability of attracting his attention. What I didn’t realize was how obvious it truly was to him.
We lived near a river and children before us had cut trails all through the woods there; we continued to maintain those trails with our own foot traffic. I was exploring those trails one day with some friends when we came across another group of kids, the young man who was the object of my attention being one of them. After a bit of conversation between the groups, we each headed our separate ways. The young man told his friends he would catch up with them and I did the same.
The next ten minutes seemed like they lasted hours and were some of the most embarrassing of my young life. Holding hands, we walked along the trial for a ways, before he turned to me and told me that he knew that I liked him. He asked if he could kiss me and before I could answer, he already had. Almost simultaneously, he moved his hand to my breast and asked me if I liked to…a rather vulgar term for sexual intercourse. I was so shocked by his touch that I couldn’t respond, not to mention that I honestly did not know what that term meant.
I tried to pull away from him and his grip on my wrist tightened. I was finally able to jerk myself away from his grasp and scurry up the trail and back towards home. His laughter rang in my ears. I cried most of the way home, more out of embarrassment than any real injury. How could I have been so stupid?
I had no one to discuss the incident with except my best friend. I didn’t dream of talking about it with my mother because sex was something we did not discuss. My sister was six years younger than I was, so that was not an option. I was too embarrassed to talk about it to just any friend. But my best friend not only didn’t believe me, but she was also very hurt that I would tell her such a story “obviously designed to make me angry at him so that you can have him for yourself.”
Within a month, she was dating the young man over whom our friendly challenge had begun. Two weeks later, they were both out of school of a week. My friend came back to school, but the young man did not. My friend had experienced date rape – though there was no such term at the time. The young man, in order to avoid further complications of the incident, had left school and enlisted in the military.
I wish that I could say that my friend and I forgave each other and resumed our friendship, helping each other through these difficulties, but sadly, I cannot. It seems that our embarrassment at our own ignorance was a wall that we simply could not manage to scale. I do not know how she dealt with her issues regarding these incidents, but I know that it took me a long time to get over the guilt that I felt over not being able to save her from that young man and the embarrassment I felt over my own ignorance.
I believe that this incident in my life is one reason I have for being sure that my daughters not only are well-educated when it comes to sex, responsibilities, reputation, and relationships between boys and girls, but also that we maintain an open and honest relationship whereas they know they can come to me regardless of the situation. Times have changed. If I could find such troubles in an age that was significantly simpler, then I believe it is obvious that the trials our children face today are far greater.
This is only one of the reasons that I believe sex education and open lines of communication between parents and children are so important. Think back and I am sure that each of you will be able to find a reason of your own.