I don’t have a boyfriend. I have a “Not Derek.” It’s a silly tradition we have on the show – actually, it’s Big Al’s silly tradition due to his previous life of dating a long string of random women. Big Al would tag these girls with fake names in hopes of having a fighting chance at a lasting relationship. Poor guy…..It was a long shot, but it was the only shot he had! But it seems to be working this go ‘round, so there’s that. Well, about six years ago when I met a young man who may or may not have wanted to have his life played out on the radio, I decided that perhaps I should give him a fake radio name, too. But since I was really bad at coming up with fake radio names, all I could manage to say was, “His name is definitely NOT Derek.” So “Not Derek” it was.
Over the years, Not Derek and I have dated off and on. It’s never been anything serious. We drift in and out of each other’s lives and we’ve never had a problem with it. It’s actually worked for us quite beautifully! But this time, he’s drifted in a little longer than usual. For well over a year, I’ve managed to see him whenever Emma Kelly was at her daddy’s house, but her daddy’s been traveling an awful lot for work lately. So I decided that maybe it was time to introduce EK to ND.
It went great! We went for hot dogs. We went to the arcade to play games. ND and I kept it friendly. No hand-holding. No nothing, actually. I could’ve been there with any mom on a play date. It went so well, a few weeks later, we all went to a movie. No big deal. It felt like another play date. All good. But then, I decided maybe it would be okay for EK to see ND pick me up and take me out to dinner — just the two of us. No tag along kid turning it into yet another play date. EK was NOT having it.
When he pulled up in the driveway, she stormed out of the house to meet him before he could get to the front door, blocking his path with her body, dashing and darting back and forth in front of him. He laughed. She pouted. She stood between ND and I as we made our way toward the door to leave. She pouted louder.
But I think the thing that tipped her over the edge was when we weren’t back before her bedtime. When she asked me the next morning what time ND finally brought me home, I made a huge error by being honest with her and told her that it was after midnight. She was LIVID. From that point on, ND has been at the top of her poop list.
I haven’t brought him around since….until this past weekend’s neighborhood party. It had been months since EK laid eyes on him, but she seemed fine….at first. While she was off playing with some kids, ND made the huge mistake of putting his hand on top of mine. My kid must have some sort of sixth sense combined with ninja sneaking-up skills because out of NOWHERE she pounces, yelling, “No, mommy!” while thrusting our hands apart. ND laughed it off and I did, too, but inside I was embarrassed. I was horrified. I felt like I’d been caught doing something incredibly wrong when I know I hadn’t. But suddenly, EK did an about-face. She asked ND to go with her to get popcorn and cotton candy. She asked ND to take pictures with her in the photo booth. This was going great, right? Um, no….my daughter had a motive that soon became quite clear — she was keeping me and ND apart.
We made it through the rest of the evening fairly okay. After we got back to my house, EK threw in an occasional stink face our way and was more than ready for ND to leave at the end of the night. I’m sure he was, too! And except for the fact that his motorcycle wouldn’t start, he would have. Now, I don’t understand anything about motorcycles, but something flooded and gas needed to evaporate. Apparently that takes a little bit of time. But it was BEYOND time for EK and I to go to bed. So I told ND to lie down on the couch, wait for the evaporation process to work, and when he was ready to leave, I’d hear the garage door open, get up and close it behind him. Then as I gave him a quick good night peck — the same good night peck I’d give my daughter or my parent or my grandparent (except for the “on the lips” part) — there she stood in the darkness, screaming bloody murder. It was like some scene straight out of a low-budget horror movie. So I had to deal with yet another meltdown that kept both of us up until we passed out from exhaustion. And when EK woke up the next morning, kissing ND was the first subject out of her mouth. It proceeded to be the ONLY subject she wanted to talk about all morning, completely obsessing over it until it absolutely ruined the start of our day.
I’ve tried being sympathetic. I’ve tried explaining that mommy needs some adult time. I’ve tried explaining that I’m not marrying anybody and I’m not abandoning her. I’ve asked her to share her feelings and her fears and I’m saying what I think are all the right things to say. But one thing remains very clear for my daughter: Daddy can date; Mommy cannot.
So the choice for me has become abundantly clear. I just have to flat-out lie to my daughter.