NO, I DON'T TRUST THEM
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m not a fan of my children having girlfriends or boyfriends in their teenaged years. And it’s not that I don’t trust them. It’s just that I don’t trust the flaming hormonal parade that IS them. So no, actually I DON’T trust them.
I’ve done my best to discourage any of their possible love interests from emotional and physical attachment. Through trial and error, I’ve found the most subtle way to do this is to put a pan of sulfur on to boil, when I know they’re coming over. This leads to a hasty departure and I click the lock behind them. Listen, a mother does what a mother has to do, people.
This is not to say the battle is won. In fact, my daughter recently admitted to me that she is “going out”. But truth be told, elementary crushes don’t really count, because the two of them only speak through interpreters, and haven’t made actual eye contact since they agreed to become linked.
And to be honest, all of my kids had their fair share of early romance. My firstborn son was a chick magnet for older women, as he was deceptively tall. He loved this, until one summer afternoon when a flock of them came to call, then sat giggling like idiots on our couch. I hid behind the wall eavesdropping, as any good mother would do, when I heard this conversation extinguisher, “Sooooo...(uncomfortable silence)...any of you paint your toenails lately?” The discrepancy between his physical and intellectual development was suddenly so evident, their eyes rolled in unison and they all left in disgust.
My second son had an intense attraction to the daughter of a friend of mine, requiring me to drive him across town for play dates. He brought her valentines in October, and thousands of sketches of her standing under a rainbow. One day they were playing together in her backyard, and he accidentally let a shovel fly through the air, which whacked her in the head. She went wailing into her mother, and he climbed quietly into our car, never to return with honor again.
My third son spent every waking moment polishing the skill of lifting one leg behind his head and hopping around on the other. When we received his 4th grade year book, we were surprised to see that every picture had been taken on the same day, as he was wearing identical clothing, and his foot was behind his left ear. Turns out nope. Not the same day. All different days. Apparently some girl had told him she liked that jacket and his trick was awesome. So he wore and performed them both. Every single day. Of the entire fourth grade. And never once do I recall washing that jacket.
I’m sorry, Mrs. Provost. So very sorry.
‘Course, I myself had a bigamist love affair with Shawn and Joby from pre-school through fourth grade. I held them both spellbound, until Neely bewitched them by running across the playground faster than me, ending my reign of love in a pool of sweat and grass stains. But not before I was given my first real gift from a boy—a bottle of puce green finger nail polish. Regrettably, my mother deemed it, “hideous,” and made me throw it away. But I snuck it back out, painted my nails and admired my split-pea nubs all night long, lamenting how my mother just didn’t understand young love.
This awakened in me a desire to find more boys willing to give me stuff, and I soon became loose and crafty with my promises, as I told my 5th grade boyfriend that, “I think I might like to kiss you behind the bowery. I love Atomic Fire Balls and Bubblicious gum.” (raised eyebrow and sideways grin)
Lucky for us all, that was about the time I entered the ugly stage. My disproportionate nose and love of sky blue eyeshadow kept me on the platform long past the curtain call, which may have been a tender mercy from heaven, saving me from myself.
Eventually I climbed back down to let someone else be ugly for a while, but by that time, I could buy my own candy and had little use for boys and boweries. It was also about that time I met my husband, and he gave me the best present ever, which I wear on my left hand.
This brings us back to the reason I continue to interfere in the love lives of my teenaged children. There’s something greater on the horizon, and my job is to keep them distracted—even with rotten egg gas—until they’re able to see it on their own. And if this means I buy stock in Febreze and light matches like a caveman, well, so be it.
Bless my very determined heart.