Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Way Past The 3 Rs
Well, I haven't hunkered down to work on the memoir, so I might as well blog and write something. Life's been great and busy, which I imagine it is for many of us.
A few weeks ago I tried to rouse Miguel from his usual teenaged state of nighttime inactivity.
"C'mon, Miguel, brush your teeth, put in your headgear, and then we can watch some Dick," I said.
"Dad, that doesn't sound right."
"Dick Van Dyke. Dick Van Dyke," I said, referring to the classic TV DVDs we'd been viewing before bed. We'd started with Andy Griffith. "Why does it always have to be about that?"
"Because I'm 13," he responded.
And then I was thrust back to my own hormonally driven adolescence and I remembered, with all too much clarity, the irreverent humor and endless joke about sex, sexual acts, bodies, breasts, and the like that I shared with my friends.
So I realized I can use some of his reactions as teachable moments. This morning, for example, while I'm home with laryngitis (proving that God does have a sense of humor) and general malaise, I watched Miguel play one of his PS3 games, in which he skateboards through urban settings. His self-designed character was shirtless and sported a bikini-clad babe tattoo across his ripped abs.
"Miguel, what's up with the tattoo?" I asked. I am sure at this point he would've preferred I'd gone to work.
"It's just a tattoo," he said.
I then launched into a brief discussion (OK, I did most of the talking) about what it means to objectify women. I am pretty sure the concept of objectifying anyone went over his head, as it would've mine all those years ago. But I hope my message will eventually seep in.
"Miguel, I just don't want you to see women as functions of their bodies," I said as he manipulated his toggles.
For him, it's a game; for me, it's about life and values and how we position ourselves in the world. And, as he finishes eighth grade and enters high school amid a flurry of social interactions and experiences, I want my voice to be a prominent guide.
While I willingly accept the opportunity to help mould my teenaged son, I am not ready to explore sex education or anything related with Maya. Sometimes, though, I have no choice.
Last night, as she was getting ready for bed, she looked at a photo of Verna, Miguel, and me and said, "I was still in Mommy's tummy."
"Well, Maya, you were still with God in Heaven," I said.
"I was an angel?"
"Yes, you were an angel," I said.
"What happened to my wings when I was born?" she asked.
"God took them," I answered.
"Before I came out of Mommy's tummy?"
"Yes," I said.
"Is that how babies get born, from the tummy?" she asked.
"Some babies do," I said. "But most babies come out from the vagina."
Her eyes widened and she looked at me. "Really?"
We then had a discussion, with her asking most of the questions, about how God helps push the babies down the canal and then the doctor or nurse helps deliver them.
I was almost about to tell her about the stork and just make it easy on myself. Eventually we stopped talking about babies and birthing and she picked out of book for me to ready before bed, Fancy Nancy. But sometimes it's easier to deal with a slightly somnambulant teen versus a highly inquisitive kindergartener.
Parenting. Oy. I mean, joy.