I am sorry--but also just a wee bit demonically amused (or should that be "de-mom-ically"? okay, sorry for that...) to report on my 9-year old's newest inner-turmoil. It seems that suddenly his Reading Comprehension Level hit a sharp bump in the road, and dumped him headlfirst into deep, dangerous waters. Oh, was that a little melodramatic? Let me explain...
Derek has always been a voracious, and (fortunately!) competent, reader. In the early days he stuck to little I Can Read books with very tame subject matter (P.J.Funnybunny Camps Out--extremely G-rated!). Then he moved onto short Chapter Books with sports themes (The Dog that Pitched a No-Hitter--baseball AND pets, can't go wrong). Eventually, of course, he craved more of a challenge, and began tackling material like Harry Potter (yes: One. Through. Seven.) and Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Now, these are written for young people, so there's generally mild bloodshed, non-vulgar language, and very, VERY chaste romance, if any. (You see where this is going, right?)
However, Derek can now handle--from a vocabulary and plot-understanding perspective, anyway--more advanced material. So what happens is: his desire to read more sophisticated books pushes him right up to Preteen Novels, where his 4th-grade Maturity Level kicks into gear, causing what I have dubbed "The "EWWW Response." He breezed right over the mild love-triangles, emotional teenage angst, and tiny bit of kissing in Harry Potter. He handled the verbal sparring, subtly-expressed affection, and brief hand-holding in Percy Jackson. But now we've moved onto the Artemis Fowl series (which is actually shelved in the Young Adult section at our library...should have been my first clue!). On the surface, it's still light in the Love Department; but whether it's the way the author describes it, or the fact that Derek is becoming more aware, I'm seeing more wrinkled-nose expressions, pained looks, and barely-concealed chagrin as he reads these books.
Annnnd...he's starting to pose probing questions like: "When did you first have a boyfriend?" So when he asked, I happily launched into reminiscing for a minute or two, until I peeked over and saw his tortured face, at which point I took pity on him and wrapped it up. His succinct assessment when I finished? "Okay, that's gross." From now on, I have to remember, this is very important: snicker on the INSIDE, sympathy on the OUTSIDE...otherwise this impending puberty thing is going to be even harder than it needs to be!