And now, as if my "bigger baby" (wait, that doesn't sound right...let's just go with "my firstborn son") wasn't growing up too fast lately, the situation has taken another alarming turn. That's right, Derek is doing the unthinkable: channeling his Middle School smart-aleck swagger, his inappropriate adolescent-boy humor, his suddenly-girl-aware self, to his younger brother (the chronological "baby" of the family...who's currently 9-1/2 years old, 4-3/4 feet tall...oh, never mind, you know what I mean.) I believe I can trace the origin of the problem to one night about a week ago, when Riley--brimming with earnest innocence--confided, "I sorta want a girlfriend, like Derek...but I don't have any good pickup lines." Oh. Dear. So many ways to respond to this...none of them the teeniest bit supportive or encouraging. A sampling of what was going on in my head as I cycled through and rejected a plethora of replies: "No, sweetie, remember: girls are ICKY!" Or "Why not just hang out with the guys; they're much more fun!" And finally "You don't really want a girlfriend...that would just take up your video game time!" But of course I didn't blurt out any of those things, because I was kind of in shock. Instead I just sat there and nodded in what I hoped was an interested-looking fashion...and fervently hoped the entire subject would just magically disappear without my having to do anything about it at all.
Alas, that was not to be. On Wednesday I picked Riley up from Lego Club, and he and Derek strolled a few steps behind me, chatting on the way to the car. This is what I overheard: Riley--"At recess today I went up to a girl and told her 'I ain't no mild salsa...I'm the hot stuff'!" I'm sorry, EXCUSE me? As a mother, this definitely counted as a forehead slapping moment, since I had to wonder just what the HECK my child gets up to while he's presumably being educated all day long. I can only assume the young lady in question rolled her eyes at him. But Derek, of course, gave an appreciative chuckle; then I heard the distinctive sound of an enthusiastic high-five being delivered, along with the praise, "Good job, bro!" (He was speaking with a certain measure of mentoring pride, as I believe he was the one who coined that awful phrase and imparted it to his sibling. Ay yi yi.)
But wait--it doesn't end there (unfortunately). Grasshopper absorbed the lessons of his revered older brother and applied them in his own unique way at school yesterday. You see, it was another 30-ish degree, windy March day and my children departed the house wearing hooded sweatshirts as their only "coat". However, Riley left his in the classroom by accident at lunchtime, thus didn't have it for outdoor recess. (Yeah, that's my boy in his cotton t-shirt...but don't blame me! I swear he has a complete Winter ensemble...that he refuses to wear!) When relaying this tale to me at home, he finished with, "So I decided I could say 'Hey, I forgot my sweatshirt...you're hot, wanna go out with me'?" Yes, folks, he came up with that completely on his own. We. Are. In. Trouble. I couldn't help it, I groaned at the sheer audacity and overwhelming cheesiness of this line. He shrugged and said, "What can I say, Derek's taught me well!" Yes, honey, and that makes me very, VERY afraid...As it turns out, Riley didn't get a chance to actually use this on any poor unsuspecting girl, since one of his soccer pals was chasing him around trying to keep his attention and convince him to play some silly game. (And by the way, thank you! I promise to pay you, little buddy...how do you like jelly beans!)
So, I know Derek sees it as his responsibility, even his job, to show Riley the ropes. I just hope the rest of us don't get burned (get it, rope burn, see what I did there?) in the process. I suspect the Birds and the Bees are about to mix it up a whole lot more than I'm ready for in the coming days...but it's all good, I guess, as long as I don't get a phone call from Riley's teacher...or the parent of a 4th grade girl...about his budding Casanova tendencies. Best Case Scenario: perhaps with Spring will come a renewed focus on the cardiovascular pursuits of outdoor sports, rather than the more romantic matters of the heart. Closing eyes, crossing fingers, and wishing...