There’s more to dating than good looks and smelling good, right?
My son is heading into high school. In middle school he was a part of a humanities magnet program that was reading and writing heavy. In 6th grade he took a double English class. As an aspiring writer, my son found this program appealing. An interesting characteristic of the program, however, was that out of 75 students in the group, only 7 were boys and they soon discovered girls have a lot of opinions…about everything.
When he started 8th grade, many of the girls had stumbled upon Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight. As teen girls who are in the throes of questioning identity, dating, and relationships, they dived right in. Let me stop here and say: Yes, I have unashamedly read the Twilight series…multiple times. And I, unabashedly, watched the movies as an adult. The series is an enjoyable beach read. Meyer using vampires and werewolves who were attracted to an ordinary girl in a small, sleepy town makes it a romantic read for the teenage population…and a few, ahem, 20–30 year olds who are now in their forties. Like many others I am looking forward to Meyer’s latest novel from the Twilight universe Midnight Sun. But I digress.
When I originally read the series, it was for fun. I thought Meyer nailed it with the teenage angst from the perspective of a shy and awkward high school girl. What young girl doesn’t hope for the same type of undying devotion? (See what I did there?) At the time, Meyer’s story was radically popular and different. She had “good” vampires and didn’t highly sexualize the content nor was it overly violent. It seemed a benign read for teenagers.
My son, hearing about the book and knowing it had vampires and werewolves was intrigued, because why not? Myths and legends are cool. He asked if he could read it. I reviewed the story with a different lens; one as a mother of a teenage boy who is socially awkward and has zero dating experience. I definitely did not want him picking up dating tips from a 100 year old vampire. Because let’s be real, boys who are sneaking into girls’ rooms and watching them sleep is really creepy. It’s voyeuristic and in the words of my teenager, “He (vampire in question: Edward Cullen) should have been arrested.”
My teenager and I listened to the audiobook together and we discussed how not to date girls. He’s the one that brings up how the story demonstrates the worst kind of dating: voyeuristic, possessive, obsessive, and shallow. But I think that goes over the heads of moony teenaged girls who are reveling in a false expectation of boys and dating relationships.
Teenage boys are awkward, make weird noises with their armpits, and fart a lot. They aren’t mysterious, nor do they know how to navigate relationships. They are still trying to figure out how many cheese balls they can cram in their cheeks at once and laugh at each other.
Before I could fret anymore about what dating might look like to my inexperienced teenager he shared his observations.
“Mom, is there anything more to him other than he’s good looking and sparkles in the sunshine?” Not really, Sweetheart. Good looking sparkly men are hard to come by.
Bella describes Edward way too much. I don’t care how muscular he is or how shiny his chest is. It doesn’t change after being told 5 times. Probably because you are a teenage boy and way too literal. Don’t underestimate a well developed chest. Heh.
Bella has no personality. She’s given a bit in the beginning where she likes books, but it never comes up again as far as we know. A note here, my entire family is filled with bibliophiles. We like book nerds. We find them wildly attractive. If you don’t read, don’t date us.
It’s weird that the only reason Edward likes Bella is because she smells nice. Um, maybe because he’s a vampire. But my son’s right, smelling nice is not the foundation for a good relationship…especially if one half of the couple dynamic would like to drink the other’s blood because of the aforementioned smell.
Don’t watch people while they sleep. Good point. I will make a note not to watch your father sawing logs or post it on social media. Who am I kidding…it’s me. I’m the one sawing logs at night.
In romances there seems to be a chemistry between two people. But there isn’t any between these two. Bella thinks Edward is hot, and Edward thinks Bella smells nice. They don’t seem to have any reasons to date each other. So what you’re saying is dating needs to involve more than good looks and deodorant. Got it.
Girls like this book because Edward is hot and vampires are cool. Yes. Yes we do.
I have to admit, the fact that he recognized these red flags of dating put my mind at ease that he might do okay when he begins that season in his life. We discussed boundaries and romance. We discussed what love really means and it’s not standing over your beloved’s bed watching them sleep without their permission. Boundaries, people.
Now, before you think I have some super open-minded teenage boy who likes to talk about his feelings, I don’t. Most of our conversations involve him grunting a “yes” or “no” or giving a beleaguered sigh and eye roll before he answers my invasive questions such as “How was your day?” Or “What would you like for breakfast?”
I haven’t had a chance to read Meyer’s newest book Midnight Sun. It dropped on August 4th and from the reviews it’s Twilight from Edward’s point of view. Even though I’m not a die-hard Twihard (I’m more of a Ladies of Lallybroch kind of girl) will I still read it? You bet Edward’s sparkly chest I will.