Saturday, November 21, 2009

Being Twelve

Last night I sat down with Kevin for a highly anticipated event: I allowed him to watch his first ever rated R movie.

My Netflix account has become solely devoted to Kevin and Joey, as I seem to have lost all interest in sitting in front of the television, even to watch a good movie. So the two of them keep a queu of movies, and once in a while a movie comes to mind that I'll suggest they add to their list. Stand By Me, the '80s Rob Reiner movie based on the Stephen King Novella, The Body, was one such movie that I suggested for Kevin.

When I suggested it, I honestly didn't realize it was a rated R movie. Although it's been several years since I've seen it, I'd still put it on my list of favorites, and I figured it's a movie about a bunch of twelve-year-old boys, and Kevin is a twelve-year-old boy, sooo . . . I was surprised when he informed me, "Mom! It's rated R!" "Seriously?" I asked. "Seriously!" he said. "Well, it's a good movie. I think you'd like it. I'll watch it with you supply parental guidance, okay?" He was all fired up. His mom was going to let him watch a rated R movie! This is probably the baddest thing Kevin's ever done in his young life. That, I suppose, should have been my first clue as to how innocent and unwordly he is.

So last night was the big night. We got all the littles tucked in for the night, Michael took Joey out to the bookstore, and Kevin and I settled down with bowls of ice cream to watch Stand By Me.

Stand By Me is a coming of age movie. Which means, in essence, that it's about that moment in time when innocence and true childhood are left behind, self-discovery is made, and the burdens of growing up transform a person. What I figured out last night, watching this movie with my twelve-year-old son, is that unless you've already come of age, you're just not going to get a coming of age story. It's something, I guess, that you can only really understand and appreciate after you've gone through it yourself and have some distance from it.

Kevin enjoyed the movie, the adventure of it. But he truly missed a lot of the deeper messages, and the nuances. And I was shown, once again, how innocent, naive, and unwordly my boy is. A lot of the sophomoric humor that had me snorting with laughter, went totally over his head.

Case in point: this exchange takes place between the boys at the beginning of the train track scene:

Teddy: "Look, you guys can go around if you want to. I'm crossing here, and while you guys are dragging your candy asses halfway across the state and back, I'll be waiting for you on the other side, relaxing with my thoughts."

Gordie: "Do you use your left hand or right hand for that?"

Kevin looked at me quizzically and said, "I don't get it." To which I replied, "Umm, yeah, I'm not going to explain that one to you."

This movie showcases preteen boys smoking, trespassing, swearing up a storm, and insulting each other's mothers. Kevin was horrified at a lot of this. And he said more than once how they were "bad kids." How did I spawn such a sheltered kid? Sometimes it boggles my mind. I tried to explain to him that they weren't bad kids, that they were actually pretty decent kids, but they were all products of troubled homes, and boys will be boys (I also included the caveat "Don't go getting any ideas!"). I stopped short at telling him that I, his own mother, was cussing and drinking and smoking when I was his age . . . and I still maintain that I was not a bad kid. Not that I would take it in stride by any means if he ended up doing half the stuff I did as a teen.

And I think that's something else I realized last night: Kevin innocence and naivete could come to a screeching halt one of these days, and probably will. He's young and sheltered and unwordly and offended by swear words and anti-drug/alcohol/smoking . . . but that's not likely to last forever. One day, he's going to change. And I feel like I should be savoring his youth and innocence while I can.


Chrystal said...

At 12, I was already a good kid who did bad things. I hope Kevin will remeber this time when he's older and realice, again, what an awesome mom he has.

Wendy P said...

Love him. He's such an awesome kid. Good job, y'all.

Carla said...

LOL. Reading that excerpt made me chuckle. Sadly, I think my 12 yr old would have "got it". I'm not ready for him to know what that's all about.