I think I’ve figured out why, after all these years, I still pine for Blue’s Clues, still retain a not-so-secret crush on Steve Burns (you know, aside from the fact that he was geekily hot as the show’s host), why I maintain that that was the greatest children’s show ever produced (it was! Well, before Joe came along, anyway . . .). I think it’s because it represents my first child’s childhood. A certain period of time when my heart was all wrapped up in him, and his in me, and he was innocent and untainted, and everything seemed to still be ahead – the future seemed impossibly far away, and I basked in his smallness and innocence, believing foolishly that those days would last forever.
Now Kevin is fourteen, and fifteen is right around the corner. He has his first week of high school under his belt. It was a bit of a shaky start – he was very nervous and made no bones about the fact that he didn’t want to go. It’s a big change for him; he attended middle school at a K – 8 school, which was a very small campus (basically, your average elementary school campus). Suddenly he was being thrust onto a much larger campus, with a much more populous student body, where he would have to find his away around and learn to feel comfortable with it all. I was nervous for him, but had no doubt that he would acclimate pretty quickly – it’s like childbirth; millions of women have done it and lived to tell about it, and so it is with kids starting high school.
And sure enough, by the end of the first week, he was coming home with that confident teenage swagger, and suddenly high school was no big deal after all.
He’s growing up. And now that he’s into teendom full swing and a high-schooler to boot, Michael and I have come to the realization that it’s time to start letting out the reins a little. So we’ve lifted the ban on giving his cell phone number out and texting friends that has been in place since we first got him a cell phone when he turned 12. For the last 2+ years, his cell phone has been only to keep in contact with us when he’s away from home. But it’s time to let him take fuller advantage of creating and maintaining a social circle for himself now, right?
It was uncanny how quickly after we lifted the ban that the chime on his phone began sounding with extreme regularity and frequency notifying him of incoming text messages. And I’ve discovered that now that he and his friends are texting each other, the emails have all but dried up, putting the kibosh on this mother’s spying abilities. Shit. I wasn’t anticipating that. Although we can see incoming and outgoing phone numbers, we can’t read the contents of incoming or outgoing texts. I did have a serious talk with him (again) about never saying something in email or text that he wouldn’t say to that person face to face, and also warned him about how easy it is to become caught up in inappropriate activities, like sexting.
Damn. Now that’s a conversation I never pictured myself having with my teenage son.
But I have to trust him, right? And he’s a good kid, he really, really is. I just don’t know about the kids he’s socializing with at school – are they good kids? I hope so.
I know that one of the people now texting him with frequency and regularity is this girl, N, who has continued her friendly pursuit of him for about a year and a half now – but up until now, they didn’t attend the same school. Now they do. And they’re texting each other. And she’s clearly interested in him – has been all along.
I’m not sure where Kevin stands on the subject of girls at this point. I do know he now says things like, “Yeah, as if anyone would ever like me,” and he suddenly cares a little bit about things like how his hair looks when he leaves for school in the morning. And he mentioned a couple of days ago in a fake-offhand way that his best friend, who is a year and a half younger than Kevin, has a girlfriend. WHAT?!? A thirteen year old with a girlfriend? What does that mean? (Because I know in my day, if you had a girlfriend/boyfriend at thirteen, you were likely practicing french-kissing, trying to be cool and like it and not be completely grossed out by having someone else’s slobber in your mouth.)
Anyway, clearly the day’s going to come when Kevin will have himself a girlfriend. And I pray to the parenting gods that I will be cool about it, that I won’t lose my shit over it. We’ve had (and will continue to have) all the important talks with him about being careful – in every sense. Respect yourself. Respect other people. Behave responsibly. Be careful. Be careful. Be careful.
It was so much easier when the biggest thing he had going on was Blue’s Clues.