Sunday, April 26, 2009

Teenage Son, A Mom, A Grocery Run...and SEX

So the other night I was hanging out with my teenage son. Rare opportunity that it is.

He was helping me get set up for some Saturday morning workshops and after we all had a long Friday night of book fairs and friends, he decided to make that late night run to the grocery store. We are walking through the aisles gathering up snacks for his sister's Brownie troop and fruit for my workshops when the topic turned to his recently ended relationship.

Now, the kid knows he is not really allowed to date, even though, in his words, "I'm almost fifteen." I have always held sixteen out as the age of official dating range. Until then, special friend and always with the folks around. Such was the case with his friend. I must say I liked her, his little sisters liked her, and he liked her.

What happened? His special friend has a friend who felt like my son was not being "nice" to her. Such is the world of fourteen year old love! So they broke up. Sad.

Then my same kid was on the phone with another girl, his former special friend, talking and joking around. I asked him what happened to Girl #1 and he told me. Then somewhere in the chip aisle we started talking.

He told me about the situation that led to this breakup. As he talked, I realized that teen love really has the attention span of a knat, except to them it is deep and serious for all of about one month!

"Girls are complicated." I smiled and listened. Girls are still into group think at times.

At the checkout stand he started talking about how he just wanted to have fun and enjoy being a teenager. And he started telling me about his music teacher who told him kids need a license or age restriction for everything from driving to voting to drinking but don't need a license to make a life. Deep thought, my son agreed. "Yeah, I'm not ready for that."

I really tried hard to not throw in my mommy-isms that he has heard since he was about three given he has older brothers. He knows how I feel about teenage sex and he also knows I teach kids about protecting themselves. So it wasn't unusual, in a way, for the conversation to drift deeper once we were in the car driving back.

We were laughing and eating cheese pops and I was cracking up. "I thought I was going to have a baby," confesses my teenage son as he revealed to me his first kiss - age 7 - on the cheek - back in our town across the state. I could not contain my laughter. He told me how worried he was and how he was scared to tell me he was going to be a father so he told his big brothers and they rolled on the floor laughing. His eldest brother at the time was 14. They reassured him he was not going to be a father and we went to go play with his Wolverine action figures.

Jump forward a few years to 6th grade sex ed class. My son pipes up to a comment the teacher made about how boys can get a sexual disease from a girl. His question was, "But I don't get it (had to hear him say this because he stretched out the get part!)...girls don't sperm!" At this point, I lost the cheese pops and had a gut wrenching laugh. I just couldn't not stop laughing as he was laughing at his youthful innocence and retelling the story. The teacher said, "well, you need to ask your parents about that." "But you are the teacher and you are supposed to be teaching me so tell me how that is possible when they can't sperm." I could not stop laughing. He went on to tell me how the teacher tried to dance around the topic while the rest of the pre-pubescent 11 and 12 year olds were listening with rapt attention. She finally told him, "I'm not at liberty to tell you and I really think you should ask your parents."

He came home and again turned to his big brothers, by then, ages 17 and 19, respectively. They, along with my surrogate sons who where there at the time, were busting at the seams laughing at the kids ignorance. He spent most of their coming-of-age outside running around playing action figures with his friends. While he listened to me give the older boys the "sex talk," he was more interested in playing ball with the girl down the street than figuring how why she didn't "sperm."

Move forward a few more years and he told me he figured it out from talking to his older brothers and an older high school friend.

Just when I thought one episode of side splitting laughter was over, he told me about his experiment with the condom. "Yeah, I know how to put them on now. I found one in my brother's pocket and thought it was a water balloon." He told me how he filled it up with water to see how much it would hold but when it didn't take the shape of a regular balloon, he knew it was something else. This happened around the same time of his 6th grade discovery.

Something about big brothers being a source of information, they told him how to use them properly, if the need every arises (pun intended). After my chokes from his funny retelling, I slipped in the serious talk about sex. "Nah mom, I'm not ready for that." Prior years talk with him, once he learned about all the creepy-crawlies that his generation has to deal with, he realized he is too much of a germ-a-phobe to easily go down the trail of doctor's visits and prodding his private parts.

He turned from funny to wise and said he just wanted to have fun. He is into the theatre, likes playing video games, loves hanging out with his friends, and still collects action figures. After his recent break up and mini-heart break, "I just want to be friends."

We sat out there talking and bonding with the occasional, "I can't believe I am talking about this with my mom!" I told him I was happy and pleased that he was talking with me about this. I always want them to come to me. Once the secrecy of sex is lifted and kids have the information to make a decision, more of them are choosing to say what my son said, "I'm just not ready yet."

Wonderful things can happen with a late night run to the grocery store...a teenage mom...a son...cheese pops...and the sex talk.

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Thoughtful dialogue is appreciated.