It was only a matter of time before the painful pangs of budding relationships would begin to enter into the lives of my boys, The Heathens. #1 is now seven years old, and within what seems like the blink of an eye, has immersed himself into drama-laden girl troubles that would make soap opera writers salivate. Slowly, unobtrusively as I can, I’ve been trying to make inroads into his mindset, trying to make funny stories out of my own mishaps, hoping against hope that he might take something from my errors. I know he needs to make his very own, and I know they’re gonna hurt like hell, but maybe I can ease just a little of the confusion by letting him know that above all else, he’s not alone.
His problems are currently revolving around a girl we’ll call “Allison”, since that’s the name of my first grade heart breaker.
Turns out that Allison is a bit of a handful herself, sassy, independent and with a jealous bone that just won’t quit. Compounding the issue, The Heathens have known her since birth, so there is history there too. The first time I was informed that Allison was his girlfriend, I tried my damnedest to convince him that seven is far too young to limit yourself to one girlfriend, much less even HAVE one. I was casually brushed aside like the ignorant fool I am, and their love continued unabated.
I thought not too much about it, until I was informed that the word “SEX” had entered his lexicon, a fact that roused me out of a deep sleep at 5am one morning. I wrote about it in this post here.
And today, around our tiny and syrup laden lunch table, I broached the subject again, ever so lightly. Turns out that Allison was at the hockey rink on the same day one of his friends (happens to be a girl) was there too. The Wife immediately sensed that the threat level was about to be ratcheted up. Me, being a guy and a fool to boot, I told her not to worry, what was the big deal? It was a very big deal, indeed.
The girl buddy of Heathen #1 has no interest “like that” and was content to wax poetic on the genius of Star Wars while we watched some hockey. Allison was having none of this. None. Not one bit.
Out came the claws; she ferociously kept her arm around him, kissing his cheek at every chance and loudly declaring that my son was her boyfriend. It was awkward, even for me. My son looked like he was about to have a heart attack. Torn between his friend and his girlfriend, he kept his head hung low, confused as to this other gender. He’s gotta fight his own battles, to be sure, but he seemed MOST relieved when I announced that we were going home, mid-third period. His girl buddy was coming with us (she was in our care) and this fact did not sit well with Allison. She continued to glare at me as I backed out of the stands, attempting, and losing, a stare down contest. No six year old girl is going to intimidate me. Not till she’s at least eight.
So it was that we discussed #1’s “situation” around lunch. I made him laugh with tales of how my love for his mother was most unrequited until I started to show less interest. Suddenly I was worth giving a second glance. This is the foundation for all relationships, a mystery that’s plagued mankind since we first brought our knuckles off the ground.
“Why’s that, Dad?”
“Son, if I had the answer to that, we wouldn’t be living in Missouri in January.”
And I got a glimmer of a smile from him. He may not listen too terribly much, he may have all the focus of a fly when we talk about some things, and that’s okay. We’re talking, and we’re talking about something that is only gonna get more awkward as he gets older, a fact that is not lost on me. I never got much advice when it came to the opposite sex from my folks except for two things:
- “Keep it in yo’ pahnt’s goddammit, son. You keep playing wit’ it, it’s gonna fall off” (The Lyin’ Dutchman)
- “Quit acting like a horned up dog, chasing around anything that’s in heat” (My stepfather)
I don’t blame my folks for limiting their sex talks with me; I was busy running from them at every chance, afraid of death by awkward shame. My own boys don’t need to tell me their details, and they sure won’t want to reveal them; that’s okay, too. I just want them to keep up the conversation with me, even at my own morbidly embarrassing expense.
I have a feeling we’ve only just begun.