Sandra Dodd

A report on my 17 year old (and later my 20 year old):

Holly and her boyfriend Brett had a romantic dinner, which they cooked
together last night. I was hanging out in my room in the back. I had
a good time. They had a good time. A picture of the flowers he had
delivered to her before he got back from work are here:

When I went in the kitchen this morning there was a homemade valentine
from Holly to Brett, leaned up against it. It was made with typing
paper, construction paper hearts, and had bits glued on inside, with
fancy art and cut-out XOXO glued onto a crayon-pattern background.
Sounds tacky, but looked beautiful.

Holly had written on white paper and glued over the design:

You are a glorious friend
and an amazing human
and the love of my life.

Nice writing.

Granted, her life is young and he's the first love, but they do seem
to treat each other very sweetly and well and this could be it. Maybe
not, but if it is, they're getting a good early start. On the 21st it
will have been a year since their first kiss. She was sixteen and he
was twenty-three. It scared people, just the age gap and the idea of
it. Now she's seventeen and he's twenty-four. Less scary.

I never minded Kirby having older friends. He has had since La Leche
League days. Later, gaming shop and karate. It was good for him to
have rides, before he could drive, and people who would take him to
gaming tournaments and anime conventions.
I totally understood Marty having older friends---many of Kirby's age
and older.
I used to joke (not really a joke) that a guy was going to have to
pretty impressive to get Holly's attention, because she had seen her
brothers and all her friends up close through all their pubescent
irritating phases.

I was still a little surprised that it was one of Kirby's friends she
did choose to "wait for." She let him know she liked him, and when
she was old enough for him to begin to consider, she reminded him
again. <g>

It's *so different* from what would have happened if she were in
school. When she first knew him she would've been in 9th grade and he
was in grad school. A year ago, she would've been a high school
junior and he was a grad school drop-out. (He might go back; he might
not.) Knowing her as well as we do, and with her sharing all this
with us as it slowly developed, how could we possibly think she didn't
know what she was doing, or was being impetuous? It was open and
honest and aboveboard.

They used to play Halo 3 together late at night, so they could talk,
before there was any romance in the air but she thought he was the
best of the guys in their extended social group. That's quite a safe
activity, she in her house on the XBox and he at his house. The first
time they were alone together, he took her to McDonald's. Then they
sat on the swings at a school playground, and came back before dark.

His friends have been more critical than anyone else, but most of them
have calmed themselves about it, especially as months have passed and
none of their fears materialized (whatever their fears were). I've
heard that his parents hate the idea of unschooling. His dad is a
doctor and his mom is a PhD Geneticist at the university; they've been
divorced since he was six. I haven't met his dad. His mom is really
nice to Holly.

This isn't what people might have predicted, but it's very civilized
and rarely in this century has a young man been so thoroughly vetted
by the girl's family. <bwg> Brett has been coming over here for a few
years to hang out with Kirby, and he has come to two of my birthday
parties (to play Encore; he sings). I've been at karaoke where he was
a few times, before there was any Holly interest.

I didn't talk about this relationship a whole lot when it was new, not
online like this. It wasn't secret, but I was afraid it might make new
unschoolers uncomfortable. A year is a stable amount of time,
though, and Holly will be 18 later this year. Kirby was a groomsman
in a fancy wedding at Bishop's Lodge a few years back; that wedding
didn't last as long as this has. So it's past being a crush or an
aberration. There are photos here:

As a side note, Marty's 23-year-old girlfriend came to his 20th
birthday party last month. She is the younger sister of one of the
guys who came to play games with Kirby on Wednesday nights for a
couple of years. She's also in the SCA, but Marty didn't know that
when he first expressed interest. He's known her slightly for a
couple of years, and then she joined the SCA, but he didn't see her at
any events. Now they're an SCA couple (and she's in Arizona where
Keith and Marty are, though they didn't travel together). She can
sew! She was a cheerleader at Bernalillo High School. She's a junior
or senior in anthropology (biological stuff, genetics?) at UNM, and
works nights in an unrelated medical lab.


Angela Shaw

<She was sixteen and he
was twenty-three. It scared people, just the age gap and the idea of
it. Now she's seventeen and he's twenty-four. Less scary.>

And it gets less and less scary sounding as time goes by.

When I was a sophomore, I dated a boy who had been a friend of my older
sister's and who was a senior when I was a freshman. (so he was one year out
of school and we had worked together when we dated) The year he got out of
high school, he moved into a house with three other young people. They all
had jobs and were responsible in that way, but all of them partied hard on
the week-ends. It became the place to hang out for some of us. (even after
I broke up with the boyfriend..we were still friends)

One of the room-mates was older (25), though he didn't look or act any
different than the rest of the group. I expressed an interest in him before
he did me. Then I found out he was 25. It made no difference to me. I
liked him. He didn't seem any different to me than the other boys. (well,
he might have seemed a little more responsible and ready to settle down) In
time, we became a thing. I didn't tell my parent's how old he was. I
dodged the question. They liked him. They imagined he was younger than he
was. He looked young. He spent a lot of time at our house. My mother fed
him well. =) There were six kids in our family and someone was always
bringing someone home anyway.

When I graduated from high school we went to the same college. After the
first year I married him thinking that my mother would kill me if I just
moved in with him. (later on my sister did just that and she didn't get
killed so I guess I could have waited)

It's been 25 years since I met that bad boy who dated the younger girl. We
have 2 great kids who are now 12 and 14. We live together pretty easily.
He's definitely less energetic than I but that is more a personality thing
than an age thing. It's always been that way.

It still freaks me out on some level when I hear of someone dating someone
with a huge age difference because our culture flinches at that. I always
have to stop and reflect about it and not just react and then I'm always
okay with it. I have never felt like I was a different age than my hubby
except when we compare the cultures of our childhood's. He's a seventies
boy and I'm and eighties girl.


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Jill Parmer

They look happy together, and sound like they are happy. Sweet.

I especially like the picture of Brett playing WoW with the My pretty
ponies(?) all around.


On Feb 15, 2009, at 9:08 PM, Sandra Dodd wrote:


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Lisa Meuser

I enjoyed reading about Holly and her boyfriend (and other family
tidbits thrown in :P )
I vaguely recall when things were beginning for them. I think you
posted a processing sort of post. It was beautiful to read your
authentic process.

What is even more beautiful is that you processed this "event" or
happening, just as you probably did with all life events your kids
went through... with partnership, connection, support, communication,
and lots of Trust. How amazing that these foundations of unschooling
can really make life's changes, challenges, shifts..... into something
beautiful that can just be called Life.

How wonderful for Holly to have a mother who supports her. How
wonderful for you to have a daughter who is connected to you.


Sharon Hockenbury

I was nineteen and my hubby 30 when we met and were married less than a year later. We have been married 29 years....I don't think our ages had anything to do with our willingness to love and committment, learn and grow together....

Another good friend was in late 20's when he feel in love with a young teen from the youth group. He waited, got to know the family, never said anything, until see was later teens. They were married when she was about 18 and it has been years and years that they have been married.

Without societal "rules" and projection of our fears onto our children, they are free to find their way, with parental "wisdom" as a reference, as needed or desired, and inturn learn to listen to their own hearts and their own wisdom.

I admire your "walk" with your daughter, Sandra!

Sharon in Washington
Natural Health and Healing At Your finger tips!
Loving God and Family
Blown Glass Hummingbird Feeders

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Jenny C

She was sixteen and he
> was twenty-three. It scared people, just the age gap and the idea of
> it. Now she's seventeen and he's twenty-four. Less scary.

Chamille was hanging out with an older boy for a while. He's 20 and
Chamille is 14. Nothing ever came of it. It did seem scary and weird
at first, but I got to know the boy and he's a very very nice person and
he has a lot in common with Chamille. He came over to our house a lot
just to hang out and sometimes they'd go get pizza or hang out at the
mall, with or without others along.

We haven't seen much of him lately because he got a second job to save
money to move out of his parent's house. At first the age difference
seemed huge, but Chamille is pretty mature and a 20 boy can still be a
boy in many ways.

It was the same thing here, I didn't talk about it much because so many
people find it just plain wrong. In actuality, I think the teen crowd
and young adult crowd seem to mix a lot. Lots of people have siblings,
and siblings have friends, it seems natural that various ages of people
would be attracted to one another. The 20 yr olds that I've met still
seem much like kids to me, even the mature ones!

It didn't surprise me really, Chamille doesn't do anything the "normal"
way, and a friend is a friend, no matter what age or gender. If it had
become something more than that, I was prepared to consider it. There
would've been more at risk for him because of the way OR laws are, no
laws against dating, just anything remotely sexual, and kissing counts.
I did talk to Chamille about that because it's always good to know what
you are getting into, the reality of what is and isn't allowed by law
and how it could impact one's life.

Sandra Dodd

would've been more at risk for him because of the way OR laws are, no
laws against dating, just anything remotely sexual-=-

I checked the laws, because when Holly was first interested in Brett,
I wanted to see whether it was even a possibility, legally and
socially. I have a friend who's an assistant district attorney, and
when I found what I could find, I showed it to him and asked him to
explain it. He said it's ambiguous about the before or after 16 but
that the instructions to the jury are written so that it's
interpretted as a person of 16 being old enough to make decisions.
I'm guessing it's an advantage to leave the law as it is because it
discourages people, but had I read it one way instead of the other, or
not had anyone to ask, I would've been very worried that he could get
in trouble for her being sixteen.

What my friend did explain to me was that if she went to a school
where he was employed, or was in a medical treatment facility where he
worked, that would be illegal.

Different states are different ways, and there are situations in which
parental permission can't save the older person if people outside the
situation want to make a deal about it.


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