The other night my husband went out with an old friend he hadn’t seen in a while. Upon his return, I asked how his wife and their kids (they have 3 sons 19,20, and 23) were doing since it had been a few years since we had all gotten together.
Last I heard, the oldest had a girlfriend that was pregnant. Part of me reacted the way I would have if it were my own 20 year old, unmarried son getting a girl knocked up. But they seemed, for lack of a better word, excited. I can’t lie, I was a little puzzled.
Then a memory of all of our boys playing together when they were young came rushing back. They were on a swing set. My son was five and theirs were slightly older at 7,8, and 11. The older kids hoisted my son up on a trapeze of sorts and started swinging him really high. I remember being sort of jumpy and distracted, watching from a distance, but their mom kept telling her story and filling my wine glass, completely unfazed by the stunts that were normal for her kids. I didn’t want to appear uptight and my son seemed to be enjoying himself, so I reacted accordingly to her story with laughs, but, peripherally, my focus was on the kids while my mind was anxiously playing out worst case scenarios.
She pulled me into the kitchen to show me a paint color and as soon as the kids were out of my view, it happened. I heard a thud. Next thing I saw was my husband frantically carrying in my son, crying and covered in bloody mud all over his face. I rushed him to the bathroom and washed him off to find that the source of the blood was his nose and a huge gash on his lip. Life threatening? No. Not even a visit to the emergency room worthy, however, he was bloody and scared and five.
The mom shrugged me off when I asked for a washcloth to hold on his wounds to stop the bleeding, shooed her hand at me, “Meh, it’s nothing. You’ll see much worse that that! You should have seen when Michael broke his arm in three places and bones were sticking out of his skin.”
But this was my son and if I could AVOID shit like this, that was what I understood to be my job. It was not to just throw my hands up in the air when he did something dangerous or stupid and chalk it up to “boys will be boys”! Sure he’ll make mistakes, but I do not plan to sit by and encourage him making stupid choices, because, that’s just kids for ya! And I hope that I have armed him with sense to take the right paths, choose good friends, and be a decent person. But when those mistakes happen, I hope that he learn from them and not let it happen again.
Everyone has their own ways of parenting. It’s right FOR THEM. There is not enough Xanax and Prozac IN THE WORLD for me to be as laid back of a parent as our friends are. It works for them, that’s fine. FOR THEM.
So back to the other night and the update about our friends. The 19-year-old, now, has a baby. The 20-year -old, now, has a baby and the 23-year- old, now, has two kids. None of them are married and the boys still all live at home.
Shocked doesn’t even begin to explain what I felt. I had so many questions (of course, none that my husband got answers to!) But then, I started panicking. I had a 17-year- old sleeping in his room, we’ve had the “sex talk”, but what does that mean, really? It was a while ago and I’m CERTAIN he wasn’t having sex then, so he did everything to avoid eye contact with me and let me get through it. He doesn’t listen to me when I tell him to put his shoes away, so what makes me think he will refer to a very uncomfortable conversation that we had where I repeatedly referred to his penis staying in his pants because babies are expensive.
I was freaking out. Our friends were grandparents FOUR times over. Sure, they parented a little less hands on than was my style, but still, they were our age. They loved their kids. Their kids are exposed to the same media and societal temptations as mine are.
I immediately ran down to my son’s room at 11:30pm and woke him up. “I just need to talk real quick,” I said as I tripped over shoes and empty cups. “I know this is weird, but are you having sex?”
Apparently, 17 -year- old boys frown on being woken up in the middle of the night to be asked about their sexual activity by their moms. Who knew?
His answer that it was “none of my business”, made me as close to swallowing my own tongue as I think I have ever been. NOT the answer I was looking for. But I had to bite the bullet. I was having sex by his age. And this is that fucking regret that I had heard about when I was young, stupid and horny. Well played, Universe.
I surrendered and told him about our friends’ kids and basically begged him to not be stupid and not use protection. He rolled his eyes and rolled over, back to sleep. I didn’t care because I got it out, I told him what I needed him to know and a load had been lifted.
The next day I saw him, I had a sneaking suspicion that he may have still been sleeping during the wisdom that was dished out the night before. I asked him if he remembered our talk. I got a blank stare. If he remembered, he would have rolled his eyes, but nothing. Just like that, the OHMYGODIWILLBEAGRANDMA load was put back on.
This was wisdom that he needed to have, but needed to not see my face while doling it out.
I opted for this…