I always thought kids hated to practice. It’s an easy assumption to make if you’ve ever plunked down payments for piano lessons, then had to beg, badger, and bribe your kids to crack the “Teaching Little Fingers” songbook just once a damn week.
I’ve recently realized, though, there are some things kids love to practice. In fact, they spend much of their childhoods willingly rehearsing for life as a grown-up. They practice parenting by caring for baby dolls. They practice working by donning plastic stethoscopes and lugging toy briefcases around the house.
And when they hit sixth grade, it turns out, they practice dating. My son has informed me that suddenly, and on an almost daily basis, girls are “asking him out.”
I try not to snicker, but the semantics alone amuse. Out … where? It’s a funny proposition for a child whose notion of “going out” still means hopping on his bike and cruising the cul-de-sac to spy on neighborhood cats.
“Where, um, do they want you to go?” I inquired the first time he told me.
“I don’t know,” he replied dubiously. “So I said, ‘No, thanks.'”
He has since informed me that “going out” simply means you like someone. “Not regular ‘like,’ but sixth-grade ‘like,'” he explained. “It means, ‘I’m attracted to you.'”