22 of 30: My Old Boy

Today I aged 10 years in 10 minutes. I have a man-child in my house. One minute he is looking up new Beyblades on the computer and the next…? I mean, even right now, he is literally curled up, lying on his side, playing Pokemon on his Nintendo DS and my heart is bruised watching him.

After school started, we set up an old laptop in his room and saved several school-recommended websites under his profile. I knew he was googling and watching youtube videos because he would tell me about what he had found. It was always about some new toy or his favorite football team. However, today something was…off.

Doodicus headed to his room and shut the door.

He shut. the. door.

He never shuts his door.

I was helping Aitch with something and I couldn’t get away from her fast enough and when I did, I just knew I had to be quiet and quick. I didn’t knock, but just barged into his room. Doodicus slammed the lid of his computer down and jumped up from his chair and rushed to me. I tried to move him out of my way and he started yelling for me to get out. I pulled his hands away from me and quietly told him to sit on the bed. He continued to yell, “What?! What do you want?!”

Two more times I told him to sit on the bed. I was deliberately calm; quiet. This was a major turning point and I knew how I reacted was going to make every difference in our future relationship as mother and son. He finally stopped yelling and pulling at my arms and sat down on the edge of the bed. I lifted the lid of the computer barely taking in the list of links I recognized as a google search results page. Instead I looked at the two words in the search box: sexy women.

My heart stopped it’s thundering beat for a second and then took off again even faster. I shut the lid again and turned to look at my eight year old son sitting on the bed who was now crying.

The first thing I did was to tell him he wasn’t in trouble. I mean how could he be when we hadn’t set any specific rules about this? I asked why he was looking something like that up; were his friends at school talking about it? No, he said. Dad’s friends are always talking about it at the races.

A small flicker of fury started up in my guts. I’ve never had a reason to dislike both my husband’s and son’s hobby until this very moment. This radio-control racing isn’t a child’s sport. Instead it’s for middle-aged men with pauches and forgiving wives who get together and geek out with talks of springs, brushless motors, battery packs and each armed with soldering irons and battery chargers. I actually enjoy the company but only in brief spurts. It’s probably comparable to your husband enjoying your girlfriends and accompanying you to the mall, but quickly splitting off to go check out the sports store or hitting the theater to see the recent action-thriller starring a really aged and poorly botoxed movie star (I’m looking at you, Sylvester Stallone).

But as much as I like the guys and the way they take kids like Doodicus under their wings, I knew the conversations sometimes get a little bawdy as they forget he’s there; or maybe don’t think he’s listening while he plays his video games between heats.

And I should have known that sooner or later this would happen.

As for what I said to him after that? First I found Sparring Partner who was really in just as much hot water as Doodicus. I briefly explained what had happened (to explain the yelling that could be heard across the house) and then had to explain what the rules will be from here on out and how we were going to enforce them, including major restrictions on his laptop.

Yes, I know we should have done that first. Trust me, I’ve already mentally flogged myself a dozen times this afternoon. I don’t know how I’m going to reconcile these two different parts that make up my son: the boy he has been for the past eight years with the young man emerging in these odd fits and starts that make me feel as if I’ve entered the Twilight Zone. Wasn’t he just a toddler obsessed with how many Hot Wheels cars he had of each color?

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