I find myself this evening virtually sitting in a corner weeping softly to myself. I am losing my son. I am losing him…to the P-Word. No, not THAT P-Word you pervert. He’s only 9. Well, ok, in today’s society… But it’s not THAT one. It’s worse. It’s the word that leads to the other P-Word. It’s PUBERTY.
Today as bath time approached I noticed my son was being much more secretive than usual. Now in the last 6 months or so he has become more private. No longer has he been prancing around clothing-optional. Heck, for a while there I was thinking the two boys believed our home was a nudist colony and all who entered better get with the program or get out. But early this year, he began to clothe himself…a little. Underwear became a staple of his wardrobe for the first time, although going commando in sweat pants was also deemed acceptable by him.
But today was a step further in the privacy department. I was puzzled until I caught a glimpse of him getting into the tub. And then I saw IT. Of course a blind man could have seen IT. IT was standing at full attention, if you catch my drift. Now any parent of a small boy knows that they get erections from time to time, but this was one of substance. I asked if he had to go to the bathroom and he fervently said no. I left him alone to bathe. When I returned to wash his hair and get him out, IT was still very much there. There was no denying what this was. The P-Word was beginning.
After we finished our post-bath routine, we had a little talk. I started in about body changes and he rolled his eyes and told me I sounded like a book he once read. Yeah, he put me in my place. I laughed and mentioned how sometimes in addition to achy knees and the possibility of zits, he might find his penis gets hard from time to time. He burst out “You mean like today?!?” I said yes and he said it had been happening all day. Fighting back the urge to scream NOOOOO!!! I asked him did it hurt at all and he said no. I told him it was totally normal and that if he needed to adjust himself at any point he should just go to the bathroom or his bedroom, that I didn’t want him to be one of those hoodlums who walks down the street with his hand in his pants down to his knees. He laughed, told me I was silly and jumped off to go play.
Yea Mommy! Brava! Good work!
So now I sit and cry a little, metaphorically speaking. This is it. The beginning of the end. Let’s call a spade a spade here…the first day of school, first steps, first words—I’ve heard all of these things described as a child’s first steps away from Mommy. That’s a lie. The REAL first steps away involve your child finding there is someone out there who holds a “special” pull. Now I’m trying to put this all somewhat delicately so that Child Protective Services (who I am sure watches my every move) doesn’t think I’m a pervert. But the fact of the matter is that when we all began to discover the attraction of the opposite sex (or same sex if you were so inclined) our parents TOTALLY took a back seat. Heck, they were likely not even in the same car.
Now, I know realistically that I’ve got some time before he really ditches me—or at least I’d BETTER have some time. But still, the signs are now glaringly obvious. There is no more pretending he’s still just my little baby. Instead I get to look forward to a series of uncomfortable conversations and the eventual introduction of some shameless hussy who wants to rob my baby of his innocence.
Wow, could I get any more melodramatic?
But seriously for a moment, what I decided a long time ago was that I wanted Puberty and everything else with my boys to be as open and easy an experience as possible. Now while that may not be always possible, it was a goal I set. I want the two of them to truly believe they can talk to me about ANYTHING no matter what. Frankly, I envision a day—MANY years from now—when a centerpiece of my front hall is a fishbowl of condoms. I’m not going to try to think that I can get them to get on board the abstinence train forever, so I want them to be safe. But that’s FAR, FAR, FAR down the road.
For now, my goal is to have frequent, casual conversations like the one this evening where I throw out an idea and maybe I get a response (like today) or maybe I get nothing, but they still know the door is open. I began laying the foundation for this almost at birth. I’ve talked to them about everything ever since before they could talk. I’ve made sure to spend alone time with each of them whenever I could—early morning conversations snuggled on my bed with one when the other was still asleep…Building a fort and exchanging secrets with the other while his brother was at Grandma’s…I hope those kinds of moments at the younger ages will lead to them feeling they can come to me as they get older.
Will it work? Only time will tell. In the meantime, I’ve still got his little brother as my baby!!!!