After we moved to a new state, I knew it would take time for my boys to meet new friends. They had mingled with the same kids since pre -
school. I took for granted the convenience of knowing all the parents. In a new state, none of us had any idea as to a kid's background. I had never realized how much I had navigated my sons' choices in friends: steering them away from homes where lawns grew cars, and the insides of houses smelled like cabbage boiled in beer.
Here, in our new home, my teens experienced a battlefield promotion: I had to trust them to go
to school and come home with friends. All that lip service about me trusting them to make the right choices would now be tested. For all of us. I was terrified. But I knew (because I watch Dr. Phil) that I had to let them make their own choices. Here is one choice I met this morning:
6:46 a.m. -- My front door opens after a rapid knock. In my foyer stands an obese teenager in big boy shorts that reveal a good deal of his skull and crossbone boxers. My nine year old daughter, still in her nightgown, opens her eyes very wide and takes her cereal bowl into another room. "Phil home?" the teenager asks. I say I'll get him.
6:47 a.m. -- Philip explains that Josh is "amazing" because he can eat an entire pizza. "And they give that award through the Kennedy Center, right?" I ask. "No, Mom, you don't understand." I know I have to be quiet. I nod and go back down to tell Josh that Philip will be right down. I know I should be quiet, accepting, all that Zen mother stuff, but I can't help it. "So," I say casually, "how did you meet Philip?" Josh explains that they met while taking the late bus home. "Oh," I say happily, "you're in band, too?" "Nah, I was in detention."
6:49 a.m. -- We both look up as Philip opens his bedroom door. "Hey, Josh, show my Mom that
thing you have on your tongue." He obliges and I mumble something polite about his piercing. "He's going to get his tongue split when he turns 14, " Philip says enthusiastically. "Split?"
"Yeah," Josh says, "it's kind of an inside joke. See," Josh says, grinning, "me and Satan," and he
crosses his middle finger over his index finger, "we're like this."
"Wait, Mom," Philip says, "it's kind of a song he's writing. I'll explain it to you later." Philip and Josh turn to the door. Josh goes a little ahead. "Mom, listen," Philip whispers, "we can talk about it when I get home, ok? That thing about Satan...it's just a joke with him. It's what he does."
"Right," I whisper, "because that's the only problem."
Philip starts laughing and turns to look at me one last time before running to catch up with his new friend. I watch them until the bus disappears around the corner, remembering that like all YA themes, there is a quieter adult parallel.