Hey Mom, Look at those cats, my son says, pointing to the front porch of an old apartment building in downtown Brattleboro.
I take a quick look and reach toward his hand to cross the street. We’re rushing to get to a concert.
How many cats do you see? he asks.
Annoyed, I look back and see three.
I thought there were only two, he explains. Because two of them are connected. What ARE they doing, Mom?
I take another look and notice that one is humping another–right there on the steps in broad daylight in front of my 11 year old (and another cat.)
Um… they’re… they’re… mating, I say.
Right there? he asks.
I know, right? I say; and then I yell: “Hey, get a room!” masking my own discomfort.
“Or at least go under the stairs!” my son bellows.
I smile. These kind of open dialogues with my boys make me happy. Sometimes, I’m taken off guard by their questions, but I stay ahead of them by choosing candidness, especially when it’s uncomfortable. I love it when they can hang in there with me instead of clamming up. It’s promising for our future.
That said, things are getting a bit stickier now that my oldest is 16. The other night, he and his dad were commenting on a friend’s unequal relationship; and I blurted out: What do you two know? Maybe she gives him blow jobs every night!
This was risque, even for me, but I wanted to stop them in their tracks. My husband quickly ducked into the bedroom to avoid any follow up, but not so my son. He just as quickly quipped back: That’s really shallow Mom. Maybe he wants more than that. Maybe he’s looking for a commitment.
I was tickled. Look at that. I can’t even embarrass my son any more. He hangs right in there and dishes it back.
I went to sleep that night proud.
Just a few days later, my teenager turned the tables on me when I asked about the dance.
What kind of dancing? I said.
The grind, he answered.
The WHAT? I asked.
You know, the grind.
But not you?
Yes, Mom, me.
Now it was my turn to turn away. I sputtered and flushed and then threatened to send him to the nearest Christian school. It’s all I could think about for the rest of the night.
Look who has the upper hand with openness now, I thought; and look who taught him.
Kelly Salasin, February 2012