Friday, August 5, 2011

Times Have Really Changed

When we were kids things were really different than they are now. I'm referring to the boy-girl thing. At my elementary school we had two sets of everything--two swingsets, two merry-go-rounds, two sets of teeter-totters, two tunnels, even two trees. We were segregated, boys from girls. I don't know if this was a rule or if it was just a tradition. There were certain things on the playground that weren't. The bars were not and neither was the half-moon because there was only one of each of those. If we were playing a game as a group, which did happen sometimes, it was done in the open area of the playground. I think this changed later due to comments I've seen recently regarding activities in the tunnels over on the FB group from home. However, that doesn't have to do with this post.

All of this segregating of boys and girls didn't stop us from being together. I had my first "kiss" when I was 4 years old (prior to starting school) from the neighbor boy. His older brother, aged 9 or 10, found us and pulled us out of the bush and read us the riot act. He really put the fear of God into us. By the time we were in high school the object of my early affections was definitely on my radar and we were friends but he never asked me out. As adults I asked him about that and he said he was afraid his brother would come after him if he did. He was by no means my only early "boyfriend." By the time I was in 4th grade I had a boyfriend that I held hands with. Nobody thought anything of it. His mother still counts me as her son's first girlfriend. There were others after him who were just hand-holding, ride bikes together and sit in the cafeteria together boyfriends. The summer after 8th grade I briefly had a boyfriend from another town and we held hands, hugged and kissed. Nothing more than that. When I was a junior in high school I had my first "true" boyfriend, I suppose you would say. By this, I mean that we actually went on dates (as best you can in a town that literally has no place to go) and we spent time in each other's homes. He was pretty much a regular at our dinner table throughout my last two years of high school. Figured out later that he was a jerk and dumped him. Went out with some other guys while I was in college but none seriously. After moving to Tucson in 1987 I met John and we've been together ever since. I think that was pretty much a standard progression for most during the time we were growing up.

Fast forward to the present day and our son and girls. There is no segregation whatsoever on the playground. When he was younger he always had an entourage following him around. In 1st grade he met one little girl who he really liked and she liked him. They have continued to like each other all the way through 5th grade although not quite as much now as when they were younger. This last year there were a couple of girls in his class who really liked him and he found pretty but that was all there was to it. Things have changed so much that we have always cautioned him with regard to girls. We have instructed him that he is only to touch a girl if he is tapping her on the arm to get her attention or if he is instructed to for some activity in school. Other than that, it's completely hands off. Sean, being wired the way he is, has taken that to heart. He has never even tried to hold hands with a girl. Now we are reaching a point where hormones and past parental instruction are starting to clash and it is kind of funny--at the moment. Here's a story of what happened just recently to illustrate how funny this is. (Remember, folks, I'm the mother of a son. I have no daughters.)

Last Saturday Sean went over to his best friend's house for the day. A female friend of theirs was there as well. She has, shall we say, sprouted over the summer. Pretty hard to miss. All these years she has just been one of the group. It's possible that Lawrence has sort of fancied her as his girl but you would never know. As far as Sean was concerned, she was just a friend. However, after the hang-out on Saturday it is obvious that while emotionally he is NOWHERE near ready for this, his brain is telling him otherwise. I casually commented how pretty she looked and asked if he thought so too. He said, "Yes" and covered his head and refused to look at me. I asked him what was wrong and he told me he was embarrassed. I told him it was fine to think that she's pretty because, after all, she IS. He started talking about Bakugan.

Fast forward to Tuesday when he was out with John and the following conversation ensued (related to me later by John, unbeknownst to Sean):

Sean: R is really pretty, Dad.

Dad: That's what Mom was telling me.

Sean: Mom thought she was pretty too?

Dad: Of course, why wouldn't she?

Sean: Dad, she's got BOOBS. She didn't have those at school.

Dad: That happens to girls, son. She's becoming a woman. It's completely normal.

Sean: But she was my friend.

Dad: She still can be. Nothing has changed.

Sean: But Dad! She has BOOBS. I can't help but see them when I look at her.

Dad: Well, that's pretty much the way it works but it doesn't mean she's not still the same R you've always known.

Sean: But it's hard not to look at her differently. You and mom always taught me to treat girls with respect. Is it unrespectful if I can't help but look there?

Dad: Well, you can't be obvious about it. You can glance there and then look back up to her face. You talk to her eyes, not her chest.

Sean: Oh. Okay. What if I like her?

Dad: Does Lawrence like her?

Sean: I think so. He doesn't say.

Dad: Well, that's where you have to be careful. If Lawrence likes her and you like her there could be a problem. Especially if you invited her to a movie or something and he thinks that she's his girlfriend even though he's never asked her to be.

Sean: What kind of problem?

Dad: You could lose your friend because he thinks you stole his girl.

Sean: Oh. So we would have to do something all together and then she could choose which one of us she likes?

Dad: Maybe. Or she might meet somebody at her new school. (Side note: I spoke to R's mother and she's not interested in that yet. She's made several comments indicating that it's coming but mainly she just says she's still too young for that. LOL)

Sean: Well, whatever happens, she sure is pretty. Can I have cola with my lunch or is that too much caffeine?

And so ended the conversation. Everybody seems to be so worried about the current generation. I'm telling you that if this group is in any way indicative of the state of boy-girl relationships at age 11 there is nothing to worry about at all.

Oh, and if any of you think that I was a bad girl due to my early activities, let me take a second here to let you know that I was a "good girl" until I met John. This was probably due to the "sex talk" I was given by my mother. I will share it with you here. I think you'll enjoy it.

"You know how it works. If you choose to do it and think you're bringing a baby home for me to raise, think again. You have a baby before you're married, you're on your own." That was it, true story. I was 34 when my son was born. LOL

If anyone has any advice on navigating this crazy time with a boy, I'm all ears.

See, I promised the next post wouldn't have anything to do with bodily fluids. *grin*

Hope all is going well in everybody's corner of the world.


Karen said...

Dear God, give me the bodily fluids every time! The only thing more complicated than dealing with male/female relationships is trying to help a teenager do the same! Good luck to you, Wilma. My own have been largely uninterested, except to dabble in socially acceptable boyfriend/girlfriend roles. Please, God, let it continue...I'm not ready for it!

Wilma said...

I'm hoping he doesn't try to move into this phase too much yet. He's truly not ready for it. He is noticing though and the brain is saying, "Ooh!! That's nice!" LOL

Kate said...

Thats so funny. Preteen and teenage boys are so funny at times. I am so glad that you have taught him to be so respectful of girls. This is going to be a fun interesting time to say the least. I can't wait to have to go thru that with our kids one day.

Wilma said...

Thanks, Katie. I think interesting is definitely what it's going to be. You have so much to look forward to when you two have a child. Every stage is so different and it seems like they catch you off-guard too.

Mel R said...

B is very boy crazy now. She is almost 12. What scares me is that because she is 5'6" and a shape already, I often catch older boys and even MEN checking her out as she walks past. So keep raising that boy so well, wilma. I am scared.. lol