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?

15 thoughts on “22 of 30: My Old Boy”

  1. A similar thing happened to my sister and her eldest son when he was 10 or 11 – his search was “big boobs” . That was on a computer in one of the family rooms so that is no protection really unless you put bars on sites. I think it will happen to everyone and it being at 9 is probably just the result of being in a jocular adult male environment more than some. You handled it great.

  2. I love that your gut told you what you needed to know at that moment. Since he shut the door, he knew at some level that it was something he shouldn’t be doing.

    Having raised 3 boys I can tell you that how you handled it was great. You have opened the line of communication that says he can talk to you about things without you going ballistic (I KNOW how hard that is!!). My boys always told me so much more than their friends ever shared with their parents. The parents were always asking me how I “got them to talk”. Really, it is more about listening and not as much about talking. They are 22, 20, 16 now and they still tell me things that curl my nose hair, but I am glad they know I am here and they don’t have to worry about judgment or rants…though I have always been strict. Not to say we didn’t have some rough times, cuz we sure did.

    I will tell you that I unapologetically stalked my middle son’s IM’s when he was in high school (pre-facebook days) and when he would leave for school I would scan through his chats from the night before (I installed a program that saved chats) and there were things that I didn’t like, but I had to pick my battles. There was only one time that I truly felt the need to address an issue and he assumed that I found out about it from another mother. Someday I will fess up, but I will wait till he is a dad.

    I am thinking that Sparring Partner and the other men were clueless to the fact that 8 year-old’s are sponges that hear/see things even when they look like they are oblivious. Now that he is clued in…..hopefully the talk will stay away from boobs and asses until Doodicus is a little older, say 25.

  3. I think you handled it really well. Who knew that’s something you’d be dealing with at not-even-9? I had no idea it started so early. Yikes.

    And lots of hugs to you, because finding your little boy searching for things like that had to completely throw you out-of-whack.

  4. Wow… okay first off you handled that wonderfully. Strong work not flying off the handle. they do grow up so fast and I’m filing this in my memory so that I hopefully won’t fly off the handle in about 7 years. *HUGS*

  5. Damn, this parenting gig is HARD! I think you handled the situation very well, you’re right, it’s so important to think not only about the moment but also about your future relationship. Interesting that he knew it was wrong enough to shut the door… and good for you for picking up on that clue.

  6. I have some friends with older kids and they can only use the computer when they are in same room with an adult. But don’t be hard on yourself, a lot of being a parent is a learning process, how in the hell are you supposed to know when you should set limits on stuff or talk about “stranger danger” or sex until something happens to make you think about it? When we went to the doctor for Ellie’s 3 year appointment the doctor was checking her out and said something like “it’s ok for me to touch your privates because I’m a doctor and mom is here.” But I thought – oh crap, I’ve never even said something like that to her before, was I supposed to have that talk already?

  7. They DO grow up so fast…and watching my nephew (12) in that in between phase – well, it is hard. He wants to be grown and have the privileges but still have the lack of responsibility. It is a hard in between place.

    I think you handled it well. If you had flown off the handle (where does that saying come from?), I agree that it would have put a big wall between you and Doodicus.

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