Ryan, my second eldest, appears in the kitchen after school with a mischievous grin. Not saying much, not giving full eye contact. You know, just seemingly shifty. Something's definitely up. I bite. "So, how was your day, kiddo?"
"You have homework to do?"
"Nope." Still not making eye contact, not saying more than one syllable at a time, still with a grin. Okay, I think.
Before I could drill him about what he had going on, I hear my oldest, Zack, yell from the top of the stairs, "Ryan has a GIIIIRRRRLLLLFFFFFFFRRRRRRRIIIEEEEENNNDDD!"
Let me just say that even though Zack is the older one, he is so not there yet with girls (yea!). Zack is cool doing his own thing in his own space in his own time. A careful thinker and mechanically minded, he's a either you like me or you don't--and either way, I'm good kind of guy.
Ryan has always been the more social one. Sporty, out-going, jokester, the little boy that always had girls waving bye to him in the carpool lane when I picked him up from elementary school.
"ZACK!" he yells back.
Not yet fully understanding (he's eleven for pete's sake), I'm all, "A girlfriend, eh?"
"Yeah, I have a girlfriend--but don't worry, mom.." (GET THIS!) "...we're not to the kissing stage yet."
WTF? "Kissing stage? Umm, I hope not. You're eleven. No kissing. Stage or otherwise."
This is where I start to freak out a little--internally. I'm completely terrified by stories I hear from my co-workers about their middle school children and their friends. This one's sneaking out of the house at night, that one's friends are already making out, and FUCK, I'M NOT READY! Can we pause all of this, please? I can't already be approaching this phase. How did I get here?
I stop freaking out for a second and ask the question, "So what does girlfriend mean?"
"uhhh, mom, you know she's...she's my girlfriend...I'm her boyfriend."
"No, Ryan. Thank you, I know what a girlfriend is. I just mean how does that translate in your world? What does that mean to you guys? Are you...I don't know...what? Sitting at lunch together? Passing notes throughout the day? Holding hands--"
"--NO, MOM! We don't hold hands! I'm so not down with PDA."
Ha! This is where I exhale and start to breathe a little easier. Okay, I'm cool. I'm totally cool. I remind myself again that he's only eleven, and this is no big deal. I've got time. Plenty. of .time. What, like 2 or 3 years, right?
I watch as he struts, I shit you not--he struts, to the family calendar/magnetic board area. "This board is magnetic, right?" he asks as he takes the girl's phone number from his pocket.
"Yes, Ryan," I say with a bit of defeat in my voice, "but I'm not sure that everyone in the family needs to have access to her phone number. Maybe put it on your magnetic board in your room." I offer a wink and a smile.
"Oh, riiiiggghhhht." He gives me a wink back with the whole finger-thumb-pseudo gun action. Shooter McGavin style [name that movie]. Fuck, I'm screwed.