Monday, May 16, 2011

What You Say Can Be Used Against You

This is good advice for anyone being arrested, under indictment, or parenting. I confess that I have spent mot of my time as a father using very direct and simple terms with my son. If there was something that I wanted him to do, I would ask him. If I needed to tell him something, I did just that. I try not to flavor or sugar-coat our communication. When you have to remind a person that the final resting place for dirty socks is not the spot where you lost interest in wearing them, it's best to be concise.
While most of that remains true, it is still important for me to consider tempering my speech when it comes to my son and the topic of girls. Under direct questioning, he is often evasive, and at times unresponsive. I get it. He's fourteen now. It is time for him to cultivate a private life. I remember my own voyage through these treacherous waters. I remember how I used to tell my mother everything, until suddenly I didn't. I'm sure there is some hormonal, developmental cause for such an abrupt change, but it doesn't matter since it happens.
And I have to deal with it. I also have to be aware of the fact that I need to apply a filter to any and all discussions of such matters in front of his friends. Every utterance is a potential deathly embarrassment. As we stood around waiting for my son's birthday celebration to conclude, I found myself face to face with the object of his affections. The two of them had barely begun to negotiate their feelings for one another, and all I could think of to say was, "So, do you like my son, or do you like like him?"
I didn't say that. Instead I asked which rides she had enjoyed on our day at the amusement park. I told her how happy I was that she was able to come along. Then I immediately sought out another one of my son's friends to ask them the same question to appear more nonchalant. I wanted to avoid any possible appearance of being too interested in the affairs of this group of teenagers.
When all was said and done, and everyone had been dropped off at their respective houses, and we walked back into our own, I got my reward. As he was getting ready for bed, my son made a point of coming into our room and telling his mother and I what he had enjoyed about his day. There were a few things that stood out, but none more than the time that he got to spend with the girl that he had asked to come along. Special. I know that my wife had another thousand questions, as did I, but I know there will be plenty of time for them to go unanswered. For now we smile and wait.

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