09/28/2013 11:23 am ET Updated Nov 28, 2013

When the Boys Start to Call

A boy phoned for my daughter today. She wasn't home.

When I hung up, I thought to myself... What could he want?

And then I thought... I know what he wants.

Except he doesn't. At least, not yet. He's 9.

But for the first time, I realized it is coming. The boyfriends. The crushes. The obsessing. The what-does-he-think-about-my-hair? My skin? My smile?

It's all coming.

I just want to stuff her in a suitcase and take her to Japan.

But there are boys there too.

When she came home, my first thought was to lie. To "forget" to tell her. I forget all kinds of things. Why not this?

But how much time would that really buy? A week? A month? A year?

Because it is coming. It is all coming. Prom and football games and texting (on the phone she doesn't have yet) her boyfriend (that she doesn't have yet) past curfew (that she doesn't have yet; her bedtime is 9 p.m.).

When I think back on my own preteen years, I don't reminisce about the Geography Bee, Thanksgiving pageant or my science report on the white-footed dormouse. I remember those things. But what I feel as if it was yesterday are the growing pains, the shenanigans: hiding eye shadow in my locker; learning to French kiss on the bus; sneaking into the R-rated movie.

And all of that is coming.

When Katie came home, I told her that he had called. And we talked about what he might want.

"I think he has a crush on me, Mom."

"Maybe," I said.

"I think I have a crush on him, too." [I wanted to scream.]

"When we have crushes, we are practicing," I said. "We are learning how to have special feelings for other people."

"I know," she said.

"It can be flattering when a boy decides he 'likes' us. But you are too young for a boyfriend."

"I know," she said.

I want to move her to a farm, buy her a horse and develop her equestrian skills. I want to hide my beautiful blue-eyed, golden-haired daughter from the wandering eyes of the world.

Instead, we practiced using the telephone today. We role-played conversations beforehand. Then she called him back.

It was silly and quick. Did she want to come over and play? No, thank you, but maybe tomorrow.

When she got off the phone, we made popcorn. We snuggled on the couch. We finished watching Annie, her favorite musical, and sang "You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile."

And for today -- for blessed, wonderful today -- I am all the boyfriend she needs.