Why I'm thrilled about my son's disastrous first date

Close up of girl's and boy's feet relaxing.
Close up of girl's and boy's feet relaxing.  Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

My son isn't like most kids his age. He's just turned 16, and he came out as transgender three years ago. 

During that time, my son has done a lot of work on himself – his mental health, his emotional intelligence, and his physical appearance. But as a parent, my greatest fear has been that he would suffer from more rejection than is tolerable, or that he would find it difficult to make friends, and to find love.

No matter what shape or form our children take, it has to be a common feeling among parents that we want our children to be happy and fulfilled, and to love and be loved. 

My son had struggled in his early teens, with mental health and his self image. It's not easy feeling like your body betrays who you really are.

But he has grown enormously over the past few years, and he has a solid and loyal group of friends, as well as being popular among his peer group at school.

Of course, there are always haters and people who take pot-shots and those who dare to be different from society's norms, but my son is able to handle himself, and he's doing well socially. 

But dating presented a new challenge. My concern was that my son would be a little too niche to find someone easily. His concerns were more around what sort of conversations he needed to have, and when, with anyone he planned on being intimate with.

While some parents of teenagers may dread the idea of their child dating, I was more concerned that it may take a while to start happening. 

So I was thrilled when my son came home recently and told me he had a date. He wasn't overly invested in the person in question, but he was flattered to be asked, and thought it could be fun.

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That weekend, my son nervously showered and dressed in jeans and a new shirt, applying probably a little bit too much cologne. And then he headed off to meet up with his lunch date. 

We had plans that night so I dropped him off, asking him to be home in four hours.

But just over an hour later I received a text message: "On way home lol."

Just like that, the disastrous first date was over. There was nothing offensive or upsetting about it, my son explained, it was just awkward. And they realised that once their mutual friends weren't there, they had very little in common, and nothing to talk about. 

My son said he's definitely never going on a second date with that person, but that he's now ready and hopeful for someone else to come along and rock his world.

As for me, being reassured that there's a whole world out there for my son, ready for him to explore, is enough for me. It's a world that is much more broad-minded and accepting than the one I grew up in – a world where everyone can be themselves unapologetically, and without hiding.

So I hope my son goes on a second date soon, with someone more his cup of tea. I hope some day that he falls in love, has his heart broken, breaks someone else's heart, and eventually finds someone with whom he can build a beautiful life. 

He deserves all the experiences, and I'm happy knowing they're all out there for him, waiting.