It was a bad, crazy day when I realized my 11 year-old son’s first date left him more experienced than I was at 23 years of age.
This was an innocent date, the kind where everyone eats ice cream and no one yells, “No means no!”
She asked him to a college soccer game with her family.
Wrap your head around that for a moment. I’m sure when my Nana fought against discrimination to work outside the home this is exactly what she had in mind: An evolved world where bold young girls proposition her great-grandson before his testicles have even dropped.
I suppose that’s unfair. The bold, young girl, Emily, is actually a polite, straight-A student who plays violin and soccer.
At first, Marc and I agreed that Zachary could go. I called Emily’s mom and we discussed details. She sounded as confused as I felt.
“Did you read the note your son gave to Emily?” she asked.
My stomach lurched. I wrote notes in middle school. They almost always resulted in counseling sessions because someone threatened to press charges.
But then I remembered that Zachary had read the note to me.
“Did it mention Carpe Diem?” I asked.
“Yes,” she happily sighed.
My son has a fondness for Latin. In a perfect world, this would make him un-datable.
“I told Emily that it was a beautiful note,” she continued. “I can’t believe he’s only in 6th grade. I never got a letter like that in 6th grade. Or 7th, or 8th, or 9th either. I don’t think I ever received a note like that.”
I almost asked if she needed a moment to get herself together. Don’t get me wrong, the letter was sweet and kind. It sounded like my son. We raised him to think and read and lay off the red M-n-M’s. But here he was, barely into middle school, and already winning over Mom, just like his dad a few decades earlier.
I sure hope he makes it past college before getting someone pregnant.
After hanging up the phone, I immediately had second thoughts. Usually, Saturdays were date nights for my husband and me, not our kids. I’d get my drink on while the boys stayed with my parents, our only concern being which curse words my dad would use to describe Eagles fans and liberals.
“Does this mean I can date Annette?” Jacob asked.
Annette had been Jacob’s “girlfriend” for the past year. This, too, was an innocent relationship. They didn’t see each other outside school or have uncomfortable conversations about birth control. They barely held hands.
“No,” I said. “Annette’s a nice Jewish girl and won’t go out with you until you get your first Mercedes. We’re safe for a while.”
“Emily is a nice girl, too,” Zachary said. “Even if she’s not Jewish.”
“I have nothing against shiksas,” I said. “I used to be one.”
On Saturday, we drove to the drop-off point. Emily looked like a young Tatum O’Neal from Paper Moon, without the saucy attitude or impending drug charges, and her family seemed perfectly sane. We all tried not to acknowledge how awkward we felt. Finally, after a few pleasantries, Emily’s mom whispered, “I’m so not ready for this.”
Zachary didn’t look uncomfortable and I smiled, knowing he’d be polite and respectful before returning to me in a few hours, if this family didn’t go crazy and sell him to Mexico.
I cried a little on the way home, passing venues where I’d taken my babies on outings and pushed them along in strollers – it didn’t seem so long ago. In the end, Jacob loved being alone with us for a few hours and Zachary came home safe and sound.
The next day, he rode his bike into the asphalt. The kid came home bravely with a bloody knee, walked in the house, and called, “Mom!”
I walked downstairs to find him crying. He needed some mommy love along with Neosporin and a few bandages. I was happy. Not that he cried, just that he still needed me.
For a little while longer.
Seize the day indeed.