So, my 16-year-old left his Facebook page open on my cell phone and I read his messages. I could tell you it was a mistake-that I thought I was my connected to my account, but I would be lying. I was looking for evidence to confirm that he is or is not smoking marijuana. Instead I discovered--he’s not a virgin any more. It’s important I come completely clean, I looked through his private messages and he was telling a friend how he wanted to have sex with his ex-girlfriend. I didn’t even know there was an ex-girlfriend. I felt like a fool. Not long ago he was still saying he was going to wait until he was married to have sex. I know that sounds crazy. His 13-year-old brother told him that was a stupid idea Robert, “What if you’re not compatible in bed together,” Andrew asked.
I never expected him to actually wait until marriage, but 16? He’s too young to be having sex and I thought I would know. That would be weird right? If my teenage son came to me, sat me down and said, “Mom, I’m having sex.” I just thought I was cooler than that or we had some intuitive bond, like I would know by just looking at him. I was just getting used to seeing him hold hands with his current girlfriend Bailey whom I adored, I wasn’t even aware he had a real girlfriend before.
He and Bailey met at church, became close friends, and she began hanging out at the house, swimming in our pool, staying for dinner. One day, I walked past the window to the backyard, I see Robert brushing Bailey’s hair, my knees buckled, and my heart starting racing and I hid in the pantry, careful not to seen. I felt as if I were watching the most romantic love story ever. Then he wrote a short film for both of them to star in, and he showed me the finished cut and the kissing scene where she-her character-takes control and pulls him towards her with his back to the camera. By camera I mean laptop-that’s how they filmed their six minute love story. I nearly died. They were sweet and creative and I’m watching my son in an “on screen” performance and I played it cool, all I said was, “wow, very believable, guys. Nice work. ”
Then she asked him out and next thing I see is them making out in the Jacuzzi, and all I could think was about him getting his heart broken if things didn’t work out which I knew was likely because they’re 16, and then he did get his heart broken. She broke up with him because she wanted a white picket fence, and he aspires to join the military, and he told her so, and she didn’t like that one bit, and after she tore his heart out, he regretted telling her that he didn’t want the white picket fence and the dog and 2.5 kids and here’s where I should have earned a Mom medal. Inside I wanted to tell him that Bailey was a bitch, that he was better off without her. When she still came over to hang out, I wanted to give her dirty looks, and I didn’t say a word about the fact that I knew they were still making out every time they were together even though they were broken up. I knew because she joined us at my partners work softball game and they went walking around the park for hours, and when they returned you could tell they had been macking on each other the whole time.
One day one of my friends asked me if I’ve had “the talk” with Robert. “You mean like the birds and the bees?” Yes, he knows where babies come from and how they are made, and every one of his four parents has talked to him about protection and about respecting women. We’ve had the talk, we go to church, I keep a parental setting on the TV- -What am I supposed to do?
I want to protect my son from harm and broken hearts and all the stupid mistakes he’s going to make, but I can’t. He’s not six. He’s 16. He has his own ideas about life, and he has to make mistakes and fall and fail and get hurt so he can learn to get up, brush himself off and try again. I would give anything for my boys to be toddlers again, those years when I had them all to myself-when no other girl mattered more than I did. Sure chasing them around was exhausting but I feel as if I’m still chasing him, and the more I do, the farther and faster he runs. My protective behavior shows up in many different ways. Not allowing him to watch Boardwalk Empire when he asked me if he could, and by the way, he had sex pre-watching Boardwalk. I’ve tried steering him clear from the wrong type of friends, and yes, even reading through his Facebook. All of this medalling on my part are my ways to try to keep him from harm. My intentions come from a good place and like my dear friend Jimmy continues to tell me, “he’s 16, he’s going to be on his own soon, you have to give him space.” Some parents here may sympathize with me and agree that as a parent our job is to take the reigns and do whatever means necessary to protect our children. I’m struggling with the balance and the boundaries.
Recently, in order to communicate better, Robert and I started writing daily letters to one another. These short letters, either hand written or in email, have given him a chance to not hold back about what I’ve done that’s pissing him off. If he had told me to my face, I wouldn’t be able to hear him, really hear him. What he said that stands out the most was this: “The more you try to hold me back from being myself the more I resist. It's that forbidden fruit element I guess you could say. I know you’re trying to help me and protect me but I'm going to be in the military soon, do you really think you can protect me from the world for much longer? I've decided to put myself in harms way time and time again. Whether it's to become a runaway or join the Army. It's just who I am and I apologize for that a thousand times over.”
Did I mention my son is a Republican? I hate war, people killing people, and I will never under why. He plans to join the military after he graduates from high school. Don’t think I haven’t tried every tactic to steer him from making this choice, but the more I tried to manipulate the situation by turning on Dateline or Frontline when there’s an exclusive about soldiers returning from war and what they really think of the US military, the more we fought, and the stronger his passion becomes. And so I’ve decided while he’s still living at home, while I can still hug him and say good night to him each night that I don’t want to fight with him. So I don’t. Time is short, but sometimes I just wish I could fast forward 15 years and know that everything is going to be okay.