Monday, May 24, 2010
Word on the street is that two seventh graders at Kevin's school had sex in the restroom at school during school hours recently, and got caught. This is not idle gossip - it happened. The details are fuzzy (i.e., how they got caught, etc.). But the police were involved, and from what I hear, the two kids involved have been removed to different schools now.
Hell's Bells. Seventh grade. Thirteen years old. Kevin is a thirteen year-old in seventh grade.
So this prompted a conversation with him this afternoon. I first asked him if he knew anything about this incident. Yes, he had heard rumors. Yes, he knows of the two kids involved, though he's not friends with either of them. I laid it straight out for him: "The fact is, Kevin, kids your age are having sex. And maybe you're not thinking about it now, but there will come a time eventually when you'll start seeing girls in a whole new light, and you will be thinking about sex. It's a really, really big deal. It's a huge responsibility. I want you to respect yourself enough to believe that it's sacred, and that it should only be shared with someone you really care about, and who cares about you. There can be really big consequences for engaging in irresponsible behavior like what those two kids did." And I told him how when I was in junior high school, a classmate of mine got pregnant and dropped out of school when she was 14 (true story). And another girl in high school dropped out to have a baby. And I told him "Making a bad choice like that can have a really big and really bad impact on the rest of your life. You can catch a disease, too." He said, "Yeah, I know, Mom. It's called AIDS." "AIDS is only the worst disease you can get. There are lots of other diseases you can get as well."
Am I trying to scare him? Yeah, I guess a little. Mostly I'm just really trying to impress upon him what a big, big deal this is. It's not something to be taken lightly. He was very uncomfortable and fidgety during the conversation. I did pretty much all the talking (and believe me, it's not the most comfortable topic for me to talk about with my adolescent son, either). I also tried to impart to him that his dad and I are always here to talk if he's got things on his mind.
But I'll tell you, this kid just does not open up. It's like pulling teeth to get anything out of him as far as what he's feeling.
There are lots of emails going back and forth between him and those two girls. Several every day. I'm not digging it. And I've found myself getting very caught up in it all, about what they say to Kevin and how he responds. The one girl, C, the one Kev's known since third grade, has reiterated to him that "Dang, your parents are Strict, with a capital S :(" I'm trying to figure out why this is bothering me so much. It doesn't bother me that she sees us as strict, but I get a sense that she's kind of disrespecting us. Which I suppose is typical behavior for a thirteen year-old. It feels like we're treading a bit on Peer Pressure territory . . . like she's trying to get him to see that his parents are too strict, perhaps? I sense a suggestion from her that he shouldn't be too happy about it. Maybe I'm reading too much into it.
The other girl, N, the one who Kevin has never met face to face, she's definitely flirting with him and pursuing him. Little chippy. And he appears to be enjoying the attention. Perhaps, just like with adults, it's easier to say things and behave a certain way behind the shield of a computer screen than in person, but I still find myself not liking these email exchanges between them. There has been nothing overtly inappropriate, but where is this flirting leading to? I'm concerned. And now watchful. She wants his cell phone number now. So I'm on the edge of my seat waiting to see how he's going to handle that one. Because the rule is that he isn't supposed to give his cell phone number out to anyone, because his cell phone isn't for socializing - it's to keep in touch with us when he's away from home, period. So what's he going to do? Tell her that he's not allowed to give out his cell phone number and risk being seen as a square? Or break the rule we've made and give her his number? I almost feel bad for him, being in that spot. But this is only the beginning as far as peer pressure and making choices go. They also keep talking about meeting at the schoolyard over some weekend to talk about their "band." In the past, I have had no problem with Kevin meeting a friend at the schoolyard to hang out, but I can say for sure that he will not be meeting members of the opposite sex without adult supervision. Not at this age. They (generally) are clearly on the cusp of developing decidedly unchildlike feelings. I'd like to meet this girl face to face, let her see my face. I'd like to meet her parents and impart to them that their daughter is sending flirty emails to a boy she's never met. Because I would want to know if my thirteen year-old daughter was doing this.
Ahhhh. Honestly? I feel like my heart is breaking a little. I feel like I'm losing my boy. I mean, I know I'm really not - not yet. He's still here, he still needs his mom, he still needs hugs from me and for me to tuck him in every night. But he's growing up. He's got secret feelings and a whole other life outside of this house and this family that has nothing at all to do with me. It's very painful, this gradual separation. He's taking a piece of my heart with him as he slowly grows away from me.
And I have no idea at all if I'm doing this parenting thing the right way.