Sunday, December 04, 2005

Where's Dr. Spock when you need him?

The key to successful parenting, I've found, is to do a Peter Lorre impression whenever discussing sensitive matters with your children. It keeps the little blighters off balance, so they can't get the jump on you.

I have a sensitive matter to discuss with my firstborn, my 15 1/2-year-old son, Eric. Yesterday afternoon he went and brought home a girlfriend.

This was probably bound to happen sooner or later. He's been taller than me for at least a year now, and at some point - not sure when it happened - he went from soprano to basso profundo. Still, it's a bit of a shock to have him come home from the burger place down the street holding hands with a pretty girl.

So far, so good. I was about that age when I started dating my first boyfriend. The part that makes me nervous is that I was only a few months older when we... you know.

She seemed very sweet. I drove her home, and as we passed the mall she mentioned that she was kicked out and banned for protesting in front of the fur shop. Isn't that adorable?

When I dropped her off I had a chat with her grandmother, with whom she lives. The lady made me a little uncomfortable with her evident eagerness to tell me what scum the girl's parents were. Apparently she took them to court and was awarded custody, and the parents don't even have visitation. Should that be a red flag, do you think? She went on quite a bit about how many grandparents are raising their grandchildren these days because the parents are so irresponsible and shiftless. It did not seem to bother her that at least one of those useless parents was the product of her own childrearing skills. Then again, maybe you just practice on your own kids, and once they're totally screwed up you can get it right with their offspring. Frankly, I wasn't asking her a lot of questions.

Eric went to a mutual friend's birthday party with the girl last night, and got home around 11. I had a brief talk with him then. Obviously, a longer, more sensitive one will be in order soon. We've had a few iterations of "the Talk" before, over the years, but I need to make sure he understands not only concrete issues like contraception and STDs (the Corpus Christi ISD sex-ed program is abstinence-only), but the much more terrifying aspects of how sex gets inside your head and your heart and reshuffles all your priorities and turns your world completely upside down. You know - all that stuff you can tell your kids but it doesn't do any good because they won't understand it until it's much too late.

Very likely he's not that interested or ready to embark on a sexual relationship yet. I just want him to be prepared, when he is... or as prepared as it's humanly possible to be. I don't know if anyone is ever really quite prepared.

Oh, be careful, Eric. You have no idea. Don't rush into anything. Don't get hurt and don't hurt that poor little girl.

And finally, (Peter Lorre voice) if you make me a grandma, I KEEL you!


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