Its happening. My daughter has come out of school the last few days flirting with a boy. He chases her around the playground, both of them giggling, and every now and again she turns and chases him. At first, I think, “how cute”, and then, “what the hell?” Is it possible that my little girl is beginning to be interested in, and be interesting to, boys? Not ready. Not ready at all. I need to start rehearsing those conversations that are not easy, yet necessary. You know, the ones where she will be mortified and tell her friends how “out of touch” I am with reality and how dreadfully uncool I am? You are smiling right now because you know the conversations of which I speak.
Adding to my nauseousness, today I received a message from a friend that has teenagers. (And before any of you try to figure out who this person is, just relax. I have many friends with teenagers so chances are it’s not you.) “Ellen” sent me a message that she had been checking her son’s text messages and can confirm that he is having sex. Please know, Ellen is a great mom, her husband is a great dad and “Mike” is a good kid. Ellen regularly checks his email, visits to internet sites, text messages, the works. That’s right. She and her husband adhere to the philosophy that while their kids are living in their house and are under the age of 18 they have very little privacy and/or rights. (I agree.) She is up to date on all the stuff that teenagers can be up to and has those uncomfortable conversations with Mike. Let’s face it, it is just too dangerous not to be open and honest with your kid.
Recently I received a phone call from the pediatrician that my daughter is at the ideal age for the HPV vaccine. Holy crap. Is this the right thing to do? Do I wait? Do I explain to her what it is and why it may be important? How much detail can she handle? Is she too young for boarding school in Switzerland? In a convent? And never mind her – I had to explain the whole thing to my husband. He turned more and more pale as we discussed the pros and cons of this vaccine and its ultimate purpose, along with the fact that someday our (his) little girl will do it. What? You know, IT. Talking with her may be easier, come to think of it.
Anyway, back to Mike. The point I am trying to make here is not that we should all run screaming though the streets about this. He is certainly not alone (breathe easy, Ellen) according the stats recently published in the New York Times and the Kaiser Family Foundation, (links below). His conversations will continue with Ellen and her husband, so that he makes informed decisions and understand risks involved with his behavior. Mike’s parents very well may freak out about this new “development” in his life, but not in front of him. I am confident they will talk openly and candidly. As we all should.
I have to take my own advice here and do some additional research on the HPV vaccine. I was so much better at parenting before I had children.