So, the other day Riley slunk into my room wearing a guarded expression. He closed the door behind him (RED FLAG! Alarm bells shrieking!) and asked in a tone of the utmost gravity, "Can we have a Mother/Son Talk?" (Aargh! This could be very bad! Or hideously embarrassing! I'm not prepared for this...I. Didn't. STUDY!) Seriously, my mind was whirling with the possibilities--he's experiencing peer pressure to try something he's uncomfortable with (I sincerely hope not; nobody's ready for that type of nonsense yet)...he has questions about a sensitive topic from Health class (Excellent! I mean, ahem, "go discuss it with your father")...or maybe he just wants some advice about how to handle a conflict he's having with a friend. (That's a fairly easy one--bring it!)
He flopped down on my bed as I braced myself for the worst. Taking a deep breath, he began, "Remember last week when you asked if I was going to the dance with someone?" I nodded affirmatively, and he continued, "Well, I said I was thinking about it...but I actually invited someone, and she said yes." Hmm...so far, not too stunning; I can totally handle this. But he wasn't finished, "So we did go together...and we've been going out for a while now."
On the outside, I made positive, supportive noises to encourage him to continue releasing the proverbial kitties from their bag. Inside, the process went something like this: Ohhhhhh....isn't THAT interesting. Hey, wait a minute--depending on how you look at it, you either pretty much lied to me...or at the very least withheld information. Whattya say we go back to the Riley who can't hold onto a secret to save his life, okay? And by the way, when did my sweet little 6th grader get all Casanova-y, asking girls out like it was NBD? Aaannd let's not even get started on the whole industrial-sized can of worms that is "dating"...in Middle School. What does that even mean? I suspect that none of us actually has a clue, truth be told. Sheesh! This is just all kinds of... disconcerting, I tell ya!
Marshaling my wayward thoughts with a herculean effort, I managed to commence with the relentless grilling--um "pleasant chat"--by requesting pertinent facts about the young lady...her name, for instance. It turns out that while they have only one class in common, they also get to hang out at recess. And in a funny coincidence, she has an older brother...who happens to share Derek's science period. So, one day when leaving the lab after the conclusion of their lecture, one Big Brother casually said to the other, "Hey, did you hear my little sister's going to the dance with your little brother?" Derek reports that his reaction was something along the lines of, "Oh reaaallllly? Thanks for letting me know...I'm gonna go home and beat the crud out of him for keeping that from me!" (Yeah, join the Need-to-Know Club, dude...kinda sucks, doesn't it? Oh, and just to be clear: to the best of my knowledge, no thrashing of any kind occurred! I'm very sure I would have heard about that....)
Meanwhile, Riley nonchalantly concluded, "So, sorry I didn't get a chance to tell you about it before." Oh, no problem, sweetie. Mom's just fiiiiiine and dandy with this news. Don't get me wrong--I'm thrilled to be in the loop. And I absolutely want you to know that if there are any mysteries about the Opposite Sex that I might be able to help clear up, I'm here for you, anytime.Now why don't you run along and bond with your dad over some...male....stuff while I attempt to process this shocking new development. I suspect it's gonna take some time...some chocolate...and possibly a few misty moments thumbing through your Baby Book for old times' sake. Please promise me you won't grow up any more while I'm wallowing in my nostalgia, huh? Siiiigghhhh.....