The Watcher

And they called it puppy love,
Oh, I guess they'll never know,
How a young heart really feels,
And just why I love her so.

If I ever had to write up a parenthood resume, one of my developed skills would be that of "Watcher". It starts when they're babies and you watch them while they sleep, just to make sure they're breathing. Then, when they're toddlers, you watch to make sure they don't hurt themselves as they learn how to walk. When they get to school age, it seems you watch them as they walk away-to the bus, friends' houses, scouts. With teenagers, watching takes on a whole new meaning.
Both of my teenage boys have girlfriends. This new development has brought on some seriously conflicting emotions. The 16-year-old's (Chip) relationship is much less serious than my 15-year-old's. Also, he's away for the summer, with no telephone, computer, etc., so his communication with her is completely cut off. I can't say that this is a bad thing, though I worry that she might get bored and move on. Three months is a long time to a teenager.
The younger one, (Richie), has been much more 'involved'. Hours on the phone the past few weeks. I finally gave him a limit, though he pushes it daily. His girlfriend (let's call her Jeanie) works at the same camp, so they see each other everyday. Am I concerned? A little. I mean, I may be old, but I remember what it felt like to be 15, I remember it all too well. I remember my first boyfriend- my first love. (My husband laughs at this. I told him, I was in love. Not 'get- married-and-have-a-family' kind of love, but '15 year-old-can't-live-without-him' love.) I can easily recall the heart-pounding, stomach-flipping feelings that happened when he held my hand. I have a very vivid image of the first night he kissed me. We were in his dad's pickup and he had driven me home from the basketball game. Oh, yeah, I remember.
The thing is, I remember being a teenage girl. Teenage boys are a completely different species. I know this because 40-year-old boys are a different species. Being married has taught me many things and one of them is that the male mind works so differently than the female one. I shudder to think of all the times I pushed the envelope with boys I dated, having no clue what they were going through. I liked kissing-alot. I was a make-out maniac. (Oh, my mom is going to be horrified to read this!) Luckily, the boys I dated were, for the most part, good boys and never took it too far. But, you see, when you have teenagers, suddenly those limits have so much more meaning. There are so many new things you have to watch.
I got to meet both of the girlfriends and they are cute, charming girls. Jeanie is so self-confident. I've spoken to her on the phone. I would have never talked to any of my boyfriends' mothers. Richie went up to her house this week to 'hang out'. I asked him what they did for 2 hours. "Talked." Really? About what? "Camp and stuff." I had asked her brother-in-law to make sure they weren't alone. 'Watch them." I don't know how well he followed through. A couple nights later she came to our house to 'hang out'. The two of them went outside to jump on the tramp. I was inside, working at the table. I glanced out the window just in time to see my son kiss this girl. Hmmmm. So, here's the conflict. I am happy that my kids are growing up to be social people. I want them to have friends, and date, and do all the things kids their age do. On the other hand, I remember.
What calmed some of my fears was my son. The two of them were indoors and I had gone upstairs. When I came downstairs, they were hugging and upon seeing me, they quickly, guiltily pulled apart. I just smiled and said, "Don't worry. I already saw you two kissing outside." Jeanie laughed and said that Richie was going to tell me. I looked at him. "Yeah, I was going to tell you that we kissed." Whew! If he feels like he needs to tell me that, then, it seems the limits are firmly in place. Does that mean I'll let them be alone or not restrict their contact? No. Way. He's a good kid, but he is still a boy. And, I may be a girl, but I'm an old girl, and I know what he's thinking, so I'll be watching.


  1. OH DEAR -- I can't even think of our children doing such things --- I'll stick with burping and farting for now (even in public):)....take lots of notes, so I can call later on in life.

  2. Oh the joys of teens...yes, I remember being a teen too...very well! thank heaven's for cell phones..I call to check in about every two hours when Zack is out...I wonder how much less trouble I'd of been in if we had cell phones when I was young.

  3. You can NOT be talking about the little boy that we shared a house with and that I held in my arms oh so long would HE kiss a girl!?! I am in awe of this post and while I dread that stage in our lives(knowing it will come all too soon) I still desperately want them to have these experiences as desperately as I wanted them for myself! What a conundrum!


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