A door opened last weekend, and my son walked through. He went to his eighth grade dinner dance, and he came home with a smile on his face. The girl that he had hoped would be his date for the evening gave him the limited cold shoulder. She agreed to meet him at the dance. He spent the week leading up to the event fretting about what this might mean. His mother and I assured him that he would have a good time no matter what the outcome of that single interaction turned out to be, but we both knew that his heart and soul was riding on the outcome.
As it happens, she stopped just short of the "just-good-friends" speech. As it turns out, she was just as nervous as he was about the evening, and they were both relieved to find out that their expectations were not all that different. She was pleased and happy to have his attention, but didn't want to "rush into anything." Well, those are my words. I may never know exactly what was said, since now is the time when teenagers turn inside for answers. Or to each other. My clever son made a connection with this girl's best friend and enlisted her as his ally in this pursuit. At home, we ask questions and get polite, straightforward answers, but we know that mom and dad are currently on a need-to-know basis.
In the meantime, all those years of video games have paid off, as his extremely durable thumbs have become the articulators of his innermost thoughts. I know that he has spent more time texting this young lady than he has ever spent in face-to-face conversation. That's why he has limits on the number of hours he can spend with his face in a screen. I made it clear to him early on that I would periodically be peeking over his shoulder to check on the content of his messages. I needn't have worried. The bulk of them are descriptions of the preceding moment: "Sitting on the couch now, watching 'Top Gear.'" Hers are every bit as revealing: "In the car now. Going to my cousin's house." The happy news is that nobody seems to care that I might be snooping. He's happy to be able to share his life with another person. A peer. A friend. A girl.