Tuesday, February 7, 2012

elegant parenting

Superbowl 2012.

I am one of those women who sits my ass on the couch unabashedly to watch the commercials and then chats during the actual football game. Mostly because this year the two east coast teams had even less of my interest than my dentist's newsletters, or a team in my vicinity.

This year I found my seven-year old snuggled up beside me most of the debacle, which could only mean one of two things: He was ill, or he was not interested in the available toys at our friends' house. Ah yes, the latter, as it was a home with no penises under the age of 40.

Which was actually quite fabulous (my son's lack of interest, not the lack of penises). At first. I relished in my son letting me scratch his back and listening to him interject cute questions and comments into the conversation: "Mom, if the city of Indianapolis is the 12th largest city, then what is Denver?" Oh, so proud of my smart, little son.

Wait! Pride. Always. Comes. Right. Before. The...

Fiat commercial.

The one with the woman bending over and then ...

I had to cover his eyes, fearing that the commercial was indeed going to turn into soft porn, since it had already crossed more lines than the French Maginot.

But he wiggled right out of the mom-covering-the-eye trick, knowing instinctively that it was something he absolutely had to see, as if his seven-year old male libido had already ignited his carnal curiosity. He is a boy. Stupid excuse.

After halftime, sensing my fears, he tried to assure me in his big-boy voice: "Mom, I only heard one thing that was inappropriate for kids."
"Oh," I ask, "and what was that?"
"It was either Madonna or the Pastor guy who said, 'I'm sexy and I know it.'"
And my inner dialogue over whether he was bothered by the brash arrogance of the comment or the reference to something sexy was on, and forced to ask: "Myles, what do you think was inappropriate about that lyric?"
"Sexy, Mom! They're talking about sex!"
"Ah, yes. Well, 'sexy' just... kinda... sorta means... pretty, and gorgeous, and beautiful, and maybe sometimes, not all that clothed."
"But sex, Mom!"
"Which means, what, exactly?"
A question asked with dread fear that I had not been informed of the extent of the extracurricular 2nd grade learning.
He whispers: "It means... kissing!"
Oh, thank you dear Jesus.
"Yes, of course that's what it means." I knew that. Of course I did. "But where did you learn that?"
"Well, my friend Charlie told me that he has sex on Emily every day. Sometimes many times a day."
Oooooh, gross. First, let's talk about prepositions.
Then, the conundrum over whether to call Charlie's parents or to allow the innocent misunderstanding continue for as long as I possibly can pulled at me...

I long to shield my child from the world for as long as possible. I do not want him to know about the power and allure of sex until he absolutely must. Yes, this is driven by fear AND selfishness, like most of the things I do. Fear that he will become a crazy sex addict and do something shameful, like expose himself, or get an STD. And selfishness that he will pull away from me, his Mom, and stop telling me the deepest parts of his soul, his every thought. Out of shame.

It was the first time as a parent that I was more afraid of what the world would teach my child than what I would.

Innocence is an empty canvas, a blank piece of paper, a new house. Which will inevitably be filled, consumed, overtaken, but not (dear God, not while I'm involved) by Fiat commercials. Or commercials at all. Or what the media dictates. Why in the hell have we become even more sex crazed in recent years? If we believe that women are equals here in our country (which, I know, we aren't, but thanks for the efforts, Ledbetter) then why do we allow and perpetuate the objectification of women in such blatant, public places? Or do I notice it more because I have young boys and just didn't notice before? Not sure. It seems to me that we've made little to no progress in this area. You know, this area of women's lib. We still exist in a double-standard. OK, we'll respect women as equals, if you work your ass off harder than any of your male contemporaries, but we're still going to use your bods to sell our cars, our guns, and our cheeseburgers.

And then today in the parking lot: A truck with this bumper sticker "F*ck Terrorism." Of course Myles asks me, "Mom, what does F*ck Terrorism" mean?" Nice.

And I said, "Let's find out." And I proceeded to march around to every shop in the strip mall to find out whose truck it was. I found the bastard and said, "Could you please explain the meaning of your bumper sticker to my seven year old? He's curious."

To which he replied, "I'm so sorry. I'll take it off my truck immediately. I shouldn't have put it on; I wasn't thinking. Young man, please ignore this and don't become so bitter toward society that you resort to promoting your beliefs via bumper sticker mandates (at least get a blog!). You're better than that. And also, don't even think about, or have, sex until you're at least 25. And always listen to your parents. And always love them and do your homework and chores."

But really I just said, "Whatever." And whoever owns that truck probably works at that store. The one with the pretty leaf.

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