Mothering from the Sidelines

The phone rang while I was driving and because of the capabilities of Bluetooth I was able to answer. It was Blake, my fourteen-year-old son, and he sounded excited.

“Guess what?” he said.

“What?” I asked.

“Two girls asked for my number today.” My son had just started summer school a few days ago so I could only imagine that these two girls were from the summer program.

“No way? You serious? Did you give it to them?” I was excited too.

“Yup”, he quipped cheerily.

The rest of the conversation, which in totality lasted less than 2 minutes, only gave a tad bit more insight into the situation. As I presumed, the girls were part of his Algebra summer class, and he had only just met them the day before. When I tried to probe a bit further he abruptly ended the conversation by asking me to bring him something to eat when I was on my way home.

As I drove I was flooded with bittersweet feelings. My baby, my only baby, was growing up. He was now excited about girls; well to tell you the truth he had been excited about them since he was a toddler, but they were now finally being responsive. A part of me, the Cool Mom part wanted to high-five him as soon as I walked through the front door, then another part of me, the Mama Bear part, was terrified of him getting his hopes up and getting hurt. Then there was the other part of me, the serious, no-nonsense Mother part, that was thinking he is totally not ready for this yet, he is only 14 years old. He is still too young for all the emotional stuff that liking teenage girls come with. I remember thinking, “Holy shit! Is Blake about to go out on his first real date?” I sighed to myself, how was I going to handle this one.

My thoughts went back to his past crushes – they both crushed him. The first was when he was in Nursery School, yes you read right, Nursery School, he wasn’t more than three years old, maybe even two years old; when he came home and announced that he had a girlfriend and her name was Grace. I asked him exactly what he meant by girlfriend and he explained that she was pretty, and he really liked her. Well, that crush lasted for years, Grace’s mother and I would constantly joke about it. I remember when he got invited to Grace’s 5th birthday party and insisted that he wanted to bring her flowers for her birthday. At the time my son was only a mere 4 years old and I couldn’t understand how he knew that buying a girl flowers was a romantic gesture. I suggested we buy her a doll as a birthday gift instead and even though he agreed with the doll suggestion he still insisted on bringing her flowers, as well. I remember trying to purchase a little fake potted plant arrangement for Grace and Blake wasn’t having it. He insisted that I buy real flowers. “Girls like real flowers, Mom, you know that.” I was amazed and pleased; I seemed to be raising a gentleman.

A little after her 5th birthday Grace got tired of Blake and started crushing on another boy, Eric, from their Pre-K class. She proceeded to tell Blake that her father said she wasn’t old enough to have a boyfriend and then promptly ran off into the sunset with Eric. Needless to say, my kid’s heart was broken. He handled it well though and pretended for years that he was never in love (I’m using this term tongue in cheek, of course) with Grace and forgot girls even existed until he landed in the 2nd grade and met Emma.

Emma was physically different from Grace. She was tiny, while Grace was tall, closer to Blake’s height. During their three years at Nursery School, Grace was always the tallest girl in the class and Blake was always the tallest boy. Grace was dark with an exotic type of look to her while Emma, on the other hand, was a pale, simple beauty. Clearly, my son did not have a type, which is good. When I asked him why he liked Emma he matter-of-factly stated that she laughs at his jokes. Of course! That made me smile.

The crush on Emma started in the 2nd grade and continued until the second semester of the 4th grade. During that time, Emma would always get a Valentine from Blake. He always reminded me the day before Valentine’s Day to take him to the store, so he could purchase a Valentine balloon along with a Valentine sticker for Emma. I thought the entire thing was cute and I encouraged it. He never got a Valentine from Emma though, but she would still laugh at his jokes and play with him during recess. Not sure where my eight-year-old wanted this crush to go but one morning in the 4th grade, after a two and half-year attempt at courtship, my son finally sent Emma a note with the following words:

“Dear Emma. I like you. Do you like me? Check the right box”. Underneath those words were 3 boxes and each box had a word next to it. Next to the first box was the word “Yes”, next to the second box was the word “No” and next to the third was the word “Maybe”. Well, Emma, as smart a girl as she was, did not check any of the boxes but instead wrote back at the bottom of note – “I have a boyfriend. His name is Liam”.

I found that note while cleaning out his book bag, not entirely sure how long after it was written that I found it, but I had a habit of cleaning out the junk from his book bag every 2 weeks. He looked so melancholy when I asked if he wanted to talk about it. Aw man, my baby was going through another heartbreak. How does one protect our children from that? Now I knew how my own Mom felt when I was going through my Divorce. I’m a bit dramatic with that comparison, aren’t I? Needless, to say I wanted to pick up the phone and call 9-year-old Emma and give her a piece of my mind but luckily the adult part of my brain prevailed, and I just held my 8-year-old son while he cried in my arms.

My boy is a 9th grader now about to become a 10th grader in the Fall, and in all that time since Emma broke his heart in the 4th grade, there was no more talk about crushes or girls or anything of the sort until now. I even remember asking him a month before his Middle School Dance, last year, if he planned on taking anyone to the Dance and he looked at me like I was crazy. Fast forward to last week and I can’t help but wonder if my baby is in for another heartbreak.

I arrived home with ice-cream ready to have a bonding session with my boy and get all the details on these 2 girls. Were they nice girls? Were they pretty? Had they called or texted yet? Did he ask for their numbers in return? Which one did he like more? I was also ready to offer unsolicited advice on teenage crushing, because after all this was way bigger than Nursery School and Elementary School crushing, now my boy was playing in the big leagues. I guess Blake must have sensed this because I got nothing. Zero! Zilch! When I announced I had ice-cream and asked if he wanted to hang out and watch Netflix. I was told he was about to start a pre-planned game on his PS 4. I asked about the girls and I was basically shunned; suddenly he did not want to talk about it.

“Wait! What? I thought you wanted to share this with me.”

“Forget I said anything, Mom. Teenage boys don’t talk to their Moms about this kind of stuff.”

“Who told you that? YouTube?” I pleaded.

“Mom, just leave it alone. Put the ice-cream in the fridge. I’ll have it later.” He turned towards his gaming console and that was that.

To say I was disappointed and maybe even hurt is an understatement. What had happened in the few hours it took me to get home? I’ll admit that I begged and pleaded for a bit of conversation regarding these mystery girls, but Blake wasn’t having it. I figured after he was done playing his game he would want to share so I deliberately stayed up past my bedtime and lurked by his bedroom door in the hope that we could have a chat but again I got nothing.

It’s been a week now and despite my friendly cool mom attempts to approach the subject of girls or specifically to find out what’s up with the two mystery summer school girls I still get nothing. These days when I bring it up, my queries are met with an annoying look followed by an eye roll.

On the positive side, I do notice that he now takes special care in dressing himself when he is leaving in the mornings. Within the past week his attire has been well-coordinated, this from the guy who thought nothing of wearing plaid and stripes together; and just this past weekend he announced he needed money for a haircut and went to the barber all by himself. I am not exaggerating when I say that I usually have to beg my son to get a haircut, like seriously beg. Obviously, these changes have done nothing but piqued my interest even more, but my husband has warned me to stay out of “Blake’s business” so that’s what I am doing, or at least, I am trying. 🙂

34 thoughts on “Mothering from the Sidelines

  1. I’m sure he’ll start sharing when there’s something good to share – and the more you leave him be about it, the more he’ll be likely to talk to you about it. Teenage boy psychology 101. I was consistently surprised by the things my teenaged son would or would not share with me and the only common denominator seemed to be my level of “interest”. Apparently, playing hard to get works in LOTS of types of relationships!

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      1. He’s 24 – just moved out (for the 3rd time – he’s our boomerang kid) a couple of days ago…which is bittersweet. I’m happy I can walk around naked at home with impunity now, but I’ll also miss having him under my roof so I can check in with him regularly. He’s not a social media user and I’m not a helicopter mom so when he doesn’t live under my roof, I don’t know what’s going on with him much.

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  2. Wonderful read. Can’t wait to hear how this story develops. I feel like intervening and prying out this story from Blake but your husband is right, stay out of Blake’s business – at least for now. Blake is a good kid and he will update you in good time. He’s clearly trying to protect you and assessing the situation before puttimg it out there. You’re really good at this blogging. I’m hooked. Keep the stories coming.

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  3. This is so powerful and true.You are a perfect mother example because you talk with your kid,just like my mum.You actually care about him.Of course you’re not going to casually throw him on the open road.But we need to see everything first so that we could know what do we like and taste life on our own.Your son sounds like a wonderful person.I am the same age as him and I am glad that I’m satisfied with my guy best friend for now.Beautiful post.I am so happy because I found your blog!

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      1. Thanks although I am not an average teen!Wallflower and a nerd when it comes to me!Of course you are doing something right!Sharing opinions and being confident is always right!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. This brings me back to about grade 9 in high school… We waited impatiently for your sequel… I am delighted to see you writing for public consumption, again

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    1. Hi Charlene…OMG, oh how I remember those days. It has always been a dream of mine to go back to Writing “for public consumption” and just for the pleasure of it. I am happy to be finally doing it after so many years and ecstatic that people are actually enjoying it.

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  5. I knew your writing would be impeccable but I was not prepared for the emotions …girl you had me going way back and as mothers that’s priceless, I felt warm reading your blog…

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