As I believe I've already mentioned (once, or twice...or a hundred times), Team WestEnders is so very, very O-V-E-R Winter. The weather lately has presented us with a delightful blend of cold, wind, and damp, making it...unpleasant, at best...to spend any time outdoors. And even if the boys wanted to brave the outside world, our backyard has settled into a state of perpetual swampiness, such that any attempted activities end up resembling a mud wrestling match, whether that was the intention or not. So, my sons have been forced to spend too much time in the house, roaming about like caged animals, brainstorming ways to amuse themselves. For example, the other day I was suddenly startled by a loud banging noise coming from somewhere in the vicinity of the basement. (Unfortunately, this is not an entirely unusual occurrence...but warrants investigation, nonetheless.) The entire house seemed to vibrate for a second, but there was no accompanying sound of wood splintering...or heads cracking open...or children screaming in pain...so I cautiously crept down the stairs to check it out. I found the brothers using my mini-exercise-trampoline to launch themselves airborne and slam dunk into the Nerf hoop attached to the storage room door. (Okey-dokey, that neatly explains the crashing noises...) But wait, that's not all: they had borrowed my iPod to play background music, thereby enhancing the showmanship of each shot. Why, you might wonder, couldn't they just use Derek's iPod? Well, because he had securely anchored it to a spot on the wall above the action....in order to capture their antics on video...naturally. And you know what? I watched a few of the test runs that Derek gleefully replayed for me...and I had absolutely no complaint about this game they had concocted. They were playing cooperatively, having a total blast, and getting some exercise in the process: WIN!
Then...things got a whole lot more interesting. During a break (Halftime?) they wandered upstairs panting, sweaty, and parched--in search of a breather and a drink. Riley found me in my room, flopped himself on the bed, and without any warning whatsoever announced, "Derek's been texting a GIRL!" Derek, from about two steps behind him, threw up his hands and yelled incredulously, "Really, dude? Why did you do that?" (In his defense, Riley honestly doesn't see this as "tattling" per se...he's just constitutionally unable to keep a secret. Full disclosure at all times...even when it's about someone else. Gotta say, as a Mom: LOVE that! Until he rats me out one day for something or other, of course...) I then shifted into full Inquisition Mode--what's her name, what are you chatting about, blah blah blah.
You see, this is a whole new Social Universe we've recently entered and the Ground Rules have barely been established. A little backstory: since we--his Tyrannical Parents--have continued to balk at giving Derek his own cellphone, he downloaded a free texting app to his iPod. (What actually happened: a soccer buddy recommended the program, then hounded Derek until he acquired my permision...) So Derek had really just wet his feet in the stream of electronic communication. I immediately hastened to set some parameters: don't delete any texts; Mom has the right to read any conversations; and the most important one--before you hit "send", think about whether it would be appropriate to share with to your grandmother, and if not, DELETE instead. I read the first few strands back and forth between him and a couple of his pals--all innocuous, silly boy stuff. But the girl thing? Yikes! Somehow I didn't see that coming! Caught me completely unprepared! After all, this is a guy who--just a few days ago, I swear--seriously didn't even know what girls were...much less care...
And, our story only escalates from there. As we were about to leave the indoor soccer arena after Derek's game last night, a teammate ran up to us and (grinning deviously) burst out, "Hey, Derek, did you tell your mom you have a girlfriend?' I gaped at him and stammered, "I'm sorry...I thought you said...WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?" I put my arm conspiratorially around his friend (although that might be an outdated term at this point, depending on whether or not Derek forgives him...) and bade him walk with me as I pumped him for information that my suddenly closed-mouthed son had neglected to share. Derek shook his head and groaned, but all-in-all took it in stride, as is his tendency anyway. Once the proverbial cat was out of the...gym bag...Derek didn't seem to mind discussing the subject. I quizzed him about the particulars--who is she, when did this happen, what did you say, what did she say...and the most critcal detail of all: what on Earth does it mean to "have a girlfriend" in the 7th grade????? From what I could gather, he asked her if she wanted to "go out with him"; she said yes. Apparently they talk in school and walk together in the halls if they're going the same direction... but as far as I can tell, that's about it. (Pshewwwwwww! That is All. I. Can. Handle. at the moment...) After I'd had some time to process, I did ask him one more pertinent question, "Did you text her, or ask her face-to-face?" The answer: he talked to her in person at school. My almost-13-year-old was brave enough to ask a girl out? Wow--I don't know if I'm more impressed...or terrified (although still a bit miffed that he hadn't told me himself...)!
This all transpired while Husband was still out-of-town, so Derek inquired, "Are you gonna tell Dad?" I assured him I would only do so with his blessing, but now that Operation Undercover Girlfriend had been revealed, Derek seemed proud and enthusiastic to hash over the saga...repeatedly. He did ruefully recounted how much grief he'd endured during school hours from some of his friends who refused to stop teasing him. And during the soccer game Derek had scored a nice goal off of a header and a teammate on the bench called out, "Who's that dedicated to, Derek?" Sigh. Boys. But I think Husband put the final punctuation to the story when he remarked, "Well, he's about four years ahead of the curve from when I started interacting with girls....should we be worried?" Yeah, I think the time for Denial has come to a screeching halt and now we switch to the...Grounded Until Age 30 phase...no, that's not it...maybe Adolescent Guidance and Training? Great, something else for me to study up on...and it looks like I'd better get busy!