A couple of months ago, while reading Allen Shawn's (excellent) book Wish I Could Be There: Notes From a Phobic Life, I came across this quote about parenting: "...I do know that dealing with growing children is like being in a batting cage with ball after ball being thrown at you. You hit the balls you can. Amazingly, the score gets kept for a very long time."
I get that--maybe a little too well. Sometimes it seems like not only is there ball after ball coming at me, but that most of them are curveballs or spitballs or...or...Well, you get the point.
The latest curveball is pretty minor league in the grander scheme of things (recent events in our extended family have taught me nothing if not to be grateful for the petty little parenting disasters I daily face), but I feel like a major league idiot for not seeing it coming.
Son-One has really been blossoming lately--he's been to more parties and events in the past month than in practically his entire four years of high school combined. He even went to the prom--which may not seem miraculous to anyone who doesn't know just how much Son-One takes after his social caterpillar mother, but trust me, it's miraculous, not loaves and fishes miraculous, but maybe the Red Sox finally winning the series miraculous. Maybe it's been brought on by the fact that he's suddenly realized that he's graduating soon and this will be his last opportunity to really spend some time with some of his classmates.
All good except when one of the classmates he wants to spend time with turns out to be Son-Two's ex girlfriend. (Yes, Son-Two snagged an older woman or, more accurately, she snagged him.)
Friday evening, Son-One told me he wanted to go camping Saturday night with AC, otherwise known as Son-Two's ex-girlfriend. Son-Two and AC were pretty serious, for the high school level, dating a good portion of Son-Two's sophomore and AC's junior year. They broke up, sort of messily, in February 2006. They maintained an on-again, off-again, just friends kind of thing--the kind of thing that's enough to give a mom heartburn trying to fight off the growing certainty that her son's feelings are being toyed with, intentionally or not.
In February or early March of this year, Son-Two started seeing a new girl, AW, right around the time that AC started cropping up more and more often in Son-One's conversation. Right around that time, Son-One came home one or two afternoons with AC's name (written in pen in her handwriting) on his arm. I raised an eyebrow but didn't say a word and I hadn't heard much mention of her since.
Until Friday. And he wants to go camping. With his brother's ex-girlfriend and his friend G and his girlfriend (who is friends with AC) and maybe a couple of other people and AC's parents will probably be there.
I can't help myself, I say it: "Are you planning on making out with your brother's ex-girlfriend?"
He looks a little sheepish--as though the thought has maybe occurred to him--and then assures me, "That would be too weird." He assures me it's a strictly friends kind of thing.
On Saturday, as the countdown for the trip begins, Son-One is rushing around the house gathering things and Son-Two shouts from the computer room, "Son-One's going camping?! Who's he going camping with?"
I look at Son-One, "You didn't tell him? You better get in there and tell him. I thought he already knew. I'm not telling him."
The telling was uneventful and Son-One came out with a Mom-you're-so-immature expression on his face and said, "Mom, I've known AC since we were in elementary school." What he meant, as was evident in his tone, was, "Duh! We're sophisticated high school seniors with a deep and meaningful friendship that we wouldn't taint by making out."
Apparently, the fact that his kid brother got there first means nothing, but the fact that he shared a cubby in kindergarten with the girl makes all the difference in the world.
The Skin of Our Teeth
1 day ago