Thursday, May 20, 2010

Angst


Apparently, we have a reputation for being "strict" parents among some of Kevin's friends.

Okay, I confess: I've been peeking at his email from time to time, even though I said I wasn't going to read them anymore. They come through on my iPhone. I don't read every single one word for word anymore, most of them I ignore, but I've reserved the right to periodically skim.

I digress.

At first when I read it in an email from this girl who Kevin has been emailing back and forth with (more on that in a minute), to wit:

"I heard from c---- that ur parents are really stricked thats too bad :("

. . . I was a little taken aback and a tiny tad offended. But just for a split second. Okay, so we're strict! Yes, we have clear rules and boundaries for our kids. That's a good thing! And I think it's better to be known as "the strict parents" among one's teenage children's friends than "the cool parents."

Anyway. So this girl. No idea who she is. Never met her. In fact, Kevin's never met her. She's a friend of a friend (another girl) whom Kevin has known since the third grade. All three of them are seventh graders now, although Kevin does not attend the same school that the two girls attend. Kevin lost touch with the one girl for a while and has recently been back in touch with her. She suggested to Kevin that they form a BAND. (I am trying not to snicker here.) It's true that Kevin has been taking drum lessons for several months, and he's actually getting pretty good at it. The girl, C, has envisioned herself in the role of guitarist for said band, despite the fact that she neither owns a guitar nor has ever taken any lessons. Okay. Anyway, so she's got this friend (the serial e-mailer mentioned above), N, who is in choir at school and so, naturally, will be the singer of the band. So the three of them have been emailing each other about this band they've (not) formed. But I have to say that N, the girl I've never met, seems to be rather forward. She seems very eager to meet Kevin and "hang out." She apparently can't wait to sing a duet with him. "LOL." She seems rather flirty in her emails. And I wonder: do her parents know? Do they know that she's sending rather forward, flirty emails to some strange 13-year old boy she's never met? Because if it were me? I'd have a big problem with that. Huge.

This is all new parenting territory for us. Kevin and C have known each other for a number of years, and up until they were 11 and even 12, they still had "playdates" once in a while, which consisted of Kevin going to C's house and playing video games and such. He's clearly beyond the age of playdates now. He's still innocent. And I'm not just saying that. He's what I think will end up being something of a later bloomer. He's grown taller over the last year, but he's still a boy. I think at this point he still views girls very platonically and might be a little scared of them even. But the winds of change are a blowin'. I'm not naive. One of these days, the lightbulb is going to flash on over his head and he's going to see girls in a whole 'nuther light, my friends. And the thing is, girls tend to "get there" often before boys do, and this girl seems to have gotten there - meaning she's flirting, she's interested, she's pursuing. Which makes me downright nervous.

So we're trying to keep the lines of communication open with him. I've asked him innocently, "So, I notice you like to check your email a lot these days. Who are you emailing?" And he did mention several friends, including this girl, N. And Michael had a talk with him the other day, you know, man to man, about girls being forward and guys having to be careful and never taking advantage, etc., etc.

And of course Kevin was horrified to be having such a discussion.

Oy.

***

And then, today, Kev received news that his grandpa has cancer. His grandma told him on the phone. When he got off the phone, he told me, "Grandpa has cancer." His face looked . . . held together is the best way I can describe it. He walked away. At first I was going to let him, but I followed him into his room and asked him if he wanted to talk about it. "No, I'm fine Mom." I asked him if he was scared or sad or had any questions. "No, Mom." Here's the thing about Kevin: he talks A LOT, but he doesn't open up much. It's hard getting things out of him that deal with feelings. He said, "Well, we just went through cancer with Dad last year, so I'm not really scared about Grandpa." But the thing is, his grandpa is 80, and apparently he's got liver cancer. I have no idea what his prognosis is, but it doesn't sound too promising to me. And I don't really know what I should be doing as Kevin's mom here. Let him hang onto his optimism, or prepare him for a possible sad outcome? I don't know.

I worry. Kevin's already dealt with plenty of death. Both my dad (his "Papa Joe") and his first dad died within six months of each other. Kevin was really little then and doesn't remember it, but it's impacted him nonetheless. And yes, we went through the terrible cancer journey with Michael last year. And now his grandpa has cancer. I don't want to shelter Kevin (or any of the kids) from the realities of life - death being one of them - but I also don't want Kevin to have a sense that people he loves are transient.

He didn't want to talk about it much. But he sort of shadowed me for the rest of the evening, making small talk, giving furtive hugs, keeping that invisible string connecting us. I know it's his way of seeking comfort and reassurance. It's his way of saying, "I need you, Mom," without actually saying the words.

Ahhhh . . . it never gets easier, does it?

2 comments:

diane rene said...

easier? I wish. and since none of our kids are ever exactly like their siblings, we can't even count on the "oh, I did this before" idea. but, this mom of 3 girls and a single late blooming boy (now 21 - oy!) has much empathy for you.

as far as girls and their flirting ... most likely the parents don't know, but hopefully they have had the conversation with their daughter that you don't go throwing yourself at every cute boy. but if she is like my oldest daughter, she really has no idea she is being forward, or sounds flirty. to this day (and she is 18), my daughter really just wants to have lots and lots of friends and she does not see what she does and says as flirting. even when I laugh and point out how ridiculous she sounds, she is clueless. all I can hope is that she continues to run with the boys that know she is clueless and allow her to stay innocent for just a little longer.

I like being the strict parents ... but we can be both. the oldest girl had friends over ALL the time. we had rules, but we were approachable and I found that to be a very happy medium. the best part was, the boys that dated her knew I was the one to be scared of, not hubby ;)

Larry said...

strict IS good - be proud of that label! L