Posted in Mid-Life Mama, Round Two, Teens

Laundry day

Aidan & another insect. #laundryday 2017, Kelly Salasin

I borrowed my son from his bedroom for his height–to remove a grasshopper from the inside of the screen door off my bedroom.

He hesitates, so I press, “Just lift it up and put it outside!”

Aidan is absurdly afraid of spiders, but grasshoppers?

He is also an engineer.
(Well, a 17-year-old with an engineering mind.)

He taps the screen and the grasshopper jumps onto the glass door.

“Now what!” I say, aggravated with the delay, but he only smiles.

He quickly pulls the screen closed so that the bug is on the outside of the glass door without return access.

“Engineering,” he says, with pride.

Relieved, I return to folding laundry, but distracted, Aidan remains at the door, which has become a specimen jar–eye to eye.

“Come look!” he says.

But I am not interested in grasshoppers–the whole point was to get rid of the grasshopper. But this is his last year at home.

“Watch,” he says, giggling, as the grasshopper pulls down its antenna, like a girl playing with her hair.

Each time Aidan laughs, the grasshopper does it again.

“He must be a comedian,” I say.

“He’s looking right at us,” Aidan says.

“Doesn’t it seem like he’s wearing a metal shield on his head?”

“Exoskelton,” Aidan says.
(He is also a scientist.)

I don’t know how to get from this story to what I want to say.

It’s a leap, like the grasshopper made from the door back into the world.

I’m grateful for this pause with Aidan and the grasshopper for the way it reminds me to stop trying so hard.

Like the Buddhist teacher, Pema Chödrön says:

There’s a kind of basic misunderstanding that we should try to be better than we already are, that we should try to improve ourselves, that we should try to get away from painful things, and that if we could just learn how to get away from the painful things, we would be happy.

I want to know this.
In my bones.

Posted in Fragile Life, Milestone Moments, Twenty-something

August 1st

to be embodied. together. in the water. in the sun. in the shade. on a blanket. their skin. his chestnut eyes. his ocean blues. my babies grown. their parents greyed. this family. once forever. now moments. like this. as deep as all of us in the same bed. didn’t he twirl my hair as we nursed in the blue chair. didn’t he cry to sleep in the stars & moon sling against his father’s chest. i must take a photo! but no. i can’t bear to capture that which is only now. this breath. my head. his chest.

Posted in Sexuality, Teens, Wisdom of Youth

Feminist or Whore?

After telling my son that he wasn’t allowed to date until he was 18 (I was only half-kidding), I shocked him at 15 with this (private) Facebook message:

I’d rather you have real sex–with a real girl–than use porn.

His response was priceless–and was actually in person–because as a mother I opted not to send my teenager a message with the words  “porn” and “sex“–but instead invited him to read it on my laptop before deleting it.

It took him a moment before he “got it”–and then he drew a quick breath and attempted to suppress a shy smile, saying:

Woah…that’s intense.

I smiled too–satisfied that I had driven my point home (despite how it unnerved me.)

It’s important to me that my teen not confuse my parental attention to his choices as a lack of passion for life itself.  I want him to know that I celebrate all that is good in life–including sex–but I want him to be intentional with his choices.

That’s how we ended up in a half-hour conversation around the word “whore” last week after he relayed a comedian’s skit that included the label.

“What does that mean to you?” I asked him.

Right away, he turned to leave the room, wishing he’d never stopped in to say goodnight to his parents or made the mistake of sharing something funny with his mother.

“Have a seat,” I said, with my–this is not an optional conversation voice–which I reserve for “these” kind of talks.

He sat himself down at the edge of my bed, prepared for a quick escape.

“So, what does ‘whore’ mean to you?” I asked again, keeping my tone lightwhile making sure he knew that this question was NOT going away.

He fumbled a bit and then said something like:

…That a girl is easy.

“What does ‘easy’ mean?” I probed, wondering where he was gaining this socio-cultural literacy and how much he had already been informed by it.

“Well how about guy?” I asked.  “What are they called when they’re ‘easy’?”

Our conversation continued in this manner with me asking lots of questions with the aim of greasing his thinking away from convention so that his mind might open beyond these gender stereotypes.

Some of his responses were surprising (given that I was certain that I had the final word on the subject.) My son thoughtfully spoke to the “economics” and power dynamics of the male-female exchange and how that determined why women would be called “easy” and men wouldn’t.

I pressed him further on this distinction, reminding him that women wanted sex too.  He was taken off guard by this response and then took me off guard with his own followup:

Mom, are you a feminist or something?

My husband and I looked at each other with suppressed smiles.  We both wondered how it was that our son could live with this particular mother for 15 years without knowing this about her–and we also wondered where he had learned the concept of feminism–and what it actually meant to him.

“Ask your grandfather about that,” I said, knowing that my dad would love to give his grandson an earful about this particular first-born daughter of his.

“What would Poppop have to say?” he asked, still bewilderingly unclear on my stance.

“A lot!” I said, and then to his dismay, I began the next chapter of our bedtime lesson on culture and sexuality–with this new leading question:

What is a feminist?

(to be continued)

Kelly Salasin