TESTOSTERONE IS SOME FUNKY STUFF

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Lately, it seems like all my son wants to do is wrestle with me. It’s hard to admit I’m getting too old for him to be body slamming me, but one session of wrestling runs the risk of 10 sessions with a chiropractor. The boy’s almost 12, so I can’t throw him off me like I used to. He’s rough. He hurts, and he takes sadistic pleasure in hurting.

One day, my son came home from school and we wrestled on the couch. Then he proceeded to sit on my head and fart. Who does that? Boys, that’s who. I can’t help but think if I had a daughter, her and I would be sitting quietly next to each other on the couch, doing needlepoint or scrapbooking or texting.

As I was cleaning up a hairball the other day, my naked son came up to me and declared, “I have a pubic hair. Look, it’s on my balls.” He was so excited I didn’t have the heart to tell him it was probably dryer lint. “I’m going through puberty,” he said proudly. “I even have a pimple.” He pointed to what may or may not have been a mosquito bite on his forehead.

I remember how I couldn’t wait to get my period. My best friend and I were in competition to see who would get it first. I won, and she was devastated. I had become a woman first. Yay me. My son can’t wait to shave. I tried to tell him once he shaves, he’ll have to shave EVERY day for the rest of his life. That he’ll quickly come to hate the daily obligation, eventually grow the defiant, non-shaving man’s beard and look like Zach Galifianakis. It fell upon deaf ears.

Puberty cannot come fast enough for him. Every day yields a new “symptom” of it—his throat is sore, his balls have dropped, the hair on his legs has darkened. Sex Ed started yesterday, and he was so disappointed to learn girls go through puberty before boys.

There’s a constant internal battle going on inside me over what’s appropriate to discuss with him. On the one hand, I want him to feel comfortable talking to me about sex, but on the other hand, I don’t want to feel like I’m living on The Mustang Ranch either. Out of the blue, my son will suddenly blurt out words like sex, or tits, or orgasm. It’s like he has an X-rated form of Tourette’s Syndrome. Whenever I ask him where he learns inappropriate crap like sticking dollar bills in the G-strings of strippers, for example, he always says Family Guy. How fantastic is that?

We were having a perfectly lovely conversation last week in the car on the way to soccer practice. I asked him who the most popular boy in his class was. He had no idea. But the most popular girl? He didn’t even have to think about it. “Gisella.” When I asked why she was so popular, he answered, “She has big tits. They’re like…huge!”

Sadly, I didn’t have a fork to stick in my eye at that moment, or bleach to rinse out my ear canals, but he understood my open-mouthed horror, because he quickly said, “But I don’t look at them. I look at her face. She has a beautiful face.” Uh-huh.

Of course, I threw in my 2.5 cents about how he should never objectify women—that it doesn’t matter how pretty a girl is if she pulls the legs off grasshoppers and sets her dolls’ heads on fire. But again, it fell upon deaf ears. I know this because a few days later when he was describing the girlfriend he was going to have in the future, he mentioned, “Big boobs, nice legs, a beautiful face. I don’t much care about the ass, but it can’t be too small.”

I have come to the conclusion that I am no match against the ridiculous surges of testosterone in a budding preteen’s body, and that every other word out of my mouth when discussing sex with him will be condom, because I sure as hell am not ready to be a grandma at 48.

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THE PORN CONVERSATION

naked barbies
When my son got his Xbox for Christmas, it had to be hooked up to our TV in the living room. It was a new flat screen TV, and since my son had one of those crappy, dinosaur TVs in his room, it made perfect sense. For him, not me. I have an open floor plan in my home, which means the TV room is near the dining room is near the kitchen is near the living room, if that makes sense.

The dining room doubles as my “office.” Every day, I get to listen to hyper preteen boys yelling and reveling in the game of Minecraft while I try to get some work done. Normally I pride myself on being able to work through distractions, what with the diva barking all day long at every creature that dares to breathe around her and the parakeets that don’t have a melodic bone in their feathery bodies.

But it eventually got to the point where the words Fuck, Shit, and Bitch being spewed from the mouth of babes was no longer conducive to my romance writing. I couldn’t concentrate anymore, so something drastic had to be done. (Something other than shipping them off to Abu Dhabi, which was my first choice.) Part of the fun of these Xbox games is being able to do multiplayer with split screens. Apparently, one can’t do that on a crappy, archaic TV, which would have been nice to know before moving all the equipment into my son’s room. Son had a fit of course, so singlewritermom had to get a new TV for her spoiled son to ensure her peace-of-mind.

Once the electronic devil was hooked up to my son’s new TV and the boys were ensconced in my son’s bedroom, I breathed a sigh of relief. With the bedroom door shut, their voices were muffled. I didn’t have to listen to the garbage that came out of their mouths any longer. But then I realized I could no longer hear the garbage coming out of their mouths, which meant I no longer knew what they were talking about. Which could be dangerous. There was no monitoring of mouths. And no monitoring of eyes. Which meant…

…the possibilities for porn were endless.

A mother never had to worry about any of this when I was growing up. If someone wanted to watch porn they had to go to a theater with sticky floors in Times Square. Or buy a shoddy VHS tape from a sex shop in Times Square. I didn’t watch my first porn until college, and it was only because my friends thought it’d be a hoot to go to a porn theater in Italy. It was a hoot until this guy plopped himself down in the empty seat next to my friend and started wanking it.

You can access the internet on all game systems if you have Wifi. Internet = Porn. Boys = Porn. My son is still innocent in my eyes, but when my neighbor told me she found out one of my son’s friends had been watching porn on the family’s communal laptop, well, I realized my “innocent” boy could be corrupted by one of his horny friends at any moment.

I know you can put parental controls on these systems, but it would require a boatload of changes to accounts, etc. and I will indeed do it, but for the moment, I had to channel my inner dominatrix and have a porn talk with the boys. (If there’s anything I know about talking to boys, or any males, it is to be brief. The last thing they want to hear is long-winded explanations about why they shouldn’t do something. Get to the point, and quickly.)

“Listen up,” I told them. “If I catch anyone watching porn, you will be in so much trouble my head will explode.”

They looked up at me, wide-eyed and embarrassed that I was even having a conversation with them about porn.

“You will never be allowed inside this house again.” I turned to my son. “And you, will have your Xbox taken away forever. Understand?”

“Yeah,” they murmured and went back to playing their game.

Just to seal the threat I let them know I could track their every viewing move on my computer, and I threw an extra arched eyebrow at my son’s potential porn-addicted friend.

Would I have had to make this announcement to my daughter (if I had one) and her friends? I think not. The only thing we girls did when we were younger was mash our naked Barbie and Ken dolls together. That’s mild compared to the kink that’s out there today.

HELL IF I KNOW WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A MAN

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If you’ve read my blog for awhile you know I have to be both mother and father to my 10 year old boy. Often, I have expressed frustration over being at a total loss when it comes to teaching him how to be a man. But there’s no one else around to do the job, so that leaves me. I don’t claim to understand men; if I did, I’d probably be in a healthy relationship right now. Even though I write from my male character’s POV in my romances, who knows whether it’s really accurate? It may be, it may not be—ultimately, it’s a male mindset from a woman’s point of view.

Women are always complaining about how they want their men to be more emotional, more expressive and sensitive. I don’t want that. I’m already that. I sure as hell don’t need two of me blubbering over a romantic comedy. I need a man to be strong mentally, esp. in stressful or dangerous situations, and strong physically, as in they’re able to kick the ass of another man if needed.

I happen to be one of the least warm and fuzzy women on the planet. I don’t like talking about my feelings, and I sure as hell don’t want to discuss my feelings with a man. That’s what I have girlfriends for when I’m so inclined. I don’t need to know how you feel about me or where our relationship (if we have one) is going, because as far as I’m concerned actions speak louder than words. I’ve had boyfriends tell me they loved me while at the same time were screwing other women, so words don’t mean much to me.

Weakness in men makes me emotionally uncomfortable and frustrated. I know that comes across as harsh, but if you have a toothache and you’re writhing about in bed, asking for last rites to be delivered, well, in my eyes, your penis has just gotten smaller by about 3 inches. I’m pretty sure that unapologetic attitude comes from having gone through 16 hours of unanesthetized back labor, getting a cavity filled without Novocaine, and growing up with a mean, nasty father.

How does this all translate to my son? From the time he was little I was the kind of mom who, when he fell down and hurt himself, would coddle him for a few seconds, then send him on his way. (Suck it up, you’re a boy.) I don’t have a hellava lot of sympathy for him when he’s whiny with a head cold, but I’ll happily administer the Motrin and vitamin C. I don’t force him to talk when he doesn’t want to, or demand he give me a proper kiss (he gives me the top of his head to kiss). And from what I’ve seen, most people tend to act the same way with their boys, esp. dads. After all, we gotta teach our boys to be tough, right?

My son is extremely attached to me, definitely a mama’s boy, not real aggressive, slight in body, shy, anxious. These are not traits that bode well for a man, imo. Men should be confident, self-assured, outgoing, bold, shouldn’t they? In the words of my father, my son is “a weenie,” made worse by the fact that I’m a single mom.

I am embarrassed to admit I agreed with my father for a time, if only because I couldn’t get the kid out of my bed until he turned 10. He wasn’t tackling the crap out of others in football, hanging out with a pack of boys on the corner, setting off fireworks, or able to watch scary movies without becoming frightened. How in the world would he ever be able to assimilate into a society where the majority of boys are like this?

I’m reading a book called The Strong Sensitive Boy by Ted Zeff, and I realize now that my son isn’t a weenie, he’s sensitive, and trying to force him to be something he’s not will result in more harm than good. Example: I took my son to see a concert when he was 8. The Black Eyed Peas (who he loved at the time) opened for U2. He wanted to leave after the second U2 song because they were “too loud.” I was so disappointed in him. (It was U2, for God’s sake!) What I didn’t understand at the time was that he’s extremely sensitive to loud noises and I’ll never be able to change that.

It’s a shame that boys growing up in North America have a harder time of it when they’re sensitive, creative introverts—that is, until they grow up to become a famous musician or actor and the world worships them. Telling sensitive boys not to cry or forcing them to do activities they don’t feel comfortable doing will undoubtedly saddle them with huge intensive therapy bills later on in life.

Our western society thinks Bruce Willis in the Die Hard films or James Bond when they think of “real men,” or (shudder) Arnold Schwarzenegger. I don’t know about you, but I think I need to reevaluate my definition of masculinity. After all, I had to reevaluate my definition of a “real dog.” I wanted a Lab—strong, steady, reliable, but the weight limit in our complex dictated we set our sights more on little runt dogs. Well, that and my son insisting on a Chihuahua after seeing the movie, Beverly Hill Chihuahua. While the Chihuahua we ended up getting is certainly a miserable diva to the tenth degree, I’ve learned to be thankful for what we have, even if I have to grit my teeth the entire time

What’s your definition of masculinity? Do you think perceptions of men are changing?

OH MY GOD!

OH MY GOD

I have a confession to make: I’m not a religious person. I was born Catholic; I even went to an Episcopalian school for six years, coupled with church every Sunday, but I viewed church more as a social event—a meeting place where I saw my friends.

As I got older, religion faded into the background. My Nana constantly praying for me was about as religious as I got: “God, please let my granddaughter find a well-paying job…and a nice man to take care of her. Keep her safe on the subways, don’t let her open the door to strangers, and please God, help her to wear more pink and less black. Amen.”

When I learned about different religions in college, I decided I was more in tune with Eastern religions, namely Buddhism. My beliefs tended to be more “spiritual” in nature, so whenever anyone asked me what religion I was I simply told them I was a Buddhist. It seemed easier than staring at them blankly, mumbling, “Ummm, well, er, hmmm…”

The message displayed on Central Baptist Church’s sign in Ghent back in 2009 pretty much summed up my devotional practices: “Staying in bed shouting, ‘Oh God’ does not constitute going to church.” And I had no problem with this…until the boy came.

I realize all children have questions about religion as they’re growing up, and when they’re young those questions are easy to answer, for the most part. Heaven was a place you went after you died, but only if you were good; if you weren’t good, then you went to that “other” place—you know, the one without video games and ice cream. Jesus was “this holy guy” and God was who you prayed to when you wanted a Wii for Christmas. Anything more in depth than that, and I was at a loss.

My son witnessed all his friends going to church on Sundays. He wanted to know why we didn’t go to church. “Because Mommy would rather stick a fork in her left eye” was not an acceptable answer, so I found myself trying to distract him from the bigger issue at play. “We can go to church if you want to, honey, oh hey, wanna get some Baskin Robbins right this very second? Come on, let’s go!”

But my son is stubborn. He wanted to know WHEN we could go to church. The fact that parents usually have to force their kids to go to church rather than the other way around was an irony that wasn’t lost on me. “I have to find a church first,” I told him, “and then we’ll go.”

I went to Google and typed in Churchs. Yeesh. I couldn’t tell you the difference between Presbyterian, Baptist, Pentecostal, Lutheran, Methodist even if I tried. Friends suggested we go to a Unity Church, but the closest one was twenty minutes away, and I knew if I had to travel to go to church, it wasn’t going to happen on a consistent basis.

I needed a church close by, and I needed services that were late in the morning. 10:00 on a Sunday? Waaaay too early. It was a challenge to find, so I went back to what I knew and googled Catholic Churches. Bingo! There was one three blocks from our house, and they had a service at 5:30 every Sunday.

We went. It didn’t kill me. The singing was nice, and the priest sounded like Apu from The Simpsons. My son didn’t like holding hands with the strangers next to us, but he managed all right. “Can we go again next Sunday?” he asked. “Absolutely!” I smiled, my left eye twitching slightly.

But the following Sunday I bought a Christmas tree, and as I struggled to put it up, the dear boy reminded me, “It’s almost time for church.” I looked up at him from the floor, pine needles sticking out of me like I was getting an acupuncture treatment and said, “Church is cancelled, so everyone can get their holiday stuff done.”

I know! I know! I’m going to Hell, because his friend three minutes later announced, “Well, I’ve got to leave now to go to church.” “There’s no church my mom said.” Dammit. “I was lying, I mean, kidding,” I quickly told him. “We’ll go during the week, okay? Hey, you want some ice cream?”

I can do this for my son. I WILL do this for my son. It’s important to him to go to church, and even though it’s somewhat painful for me, I can always plot books in my head during the hour.

I CAN DO THIS.

4 NOT-SO-PRETTY THINGS I LEARNED LAST WEEK

photo by The Wandering Angel

1. My son has off from school the exact same week my debut novel is being released (this Friday).

Wow, is that piss-poor timing, or what? Not only am I expected to bombard anyone who’ll listen with shameless promotional banter on every social media platform that will have me, but I had high hopes of finishing my WIP as well. With only about forty more pages to go, I’m at the point where I’m sick of it and just want it to be over and done with—much like I felt in the ninth month of pregnancy.

But these ginormous tasks require focus, concentration, peace and quiet—all of which take a nosedive right out the window when kids are afoot. And while I much prefer the Wii soccer game the boys are into now, as opposed to the war games, this new one has cool songs in it which stick in my head all day—so now I get to listen to the boys cheering (or saying the occasional bad words as the case may be), the sounds of the game itself, AND music—all while unsuccessfully trying to get work done.

2. Puppies don’t solve everything.

I came up with the brilliant idea of giving my friend (the one whose daughter is dying of cancer) a puppy. I figured a puppy would take his mind off his grief by busying him with the many details of owning a puppy: cleaning up numerous accidents from the carpet, the continuous action of throwing a chew toy, applying Neosporin to affected scratches and bites from puppy-sharp teeth. He was all for it, claiming he was in the market for one anyway, and my neighbor, who has the nurturing instinct of a hamster was more than willing to let go of the puppy she had.

After half a day my poor friend called me, overwhelmed, and said, “I can’t handle the puppy right now.”

Fair enough. I understood. I’ve often said the very same thing about my son. So back went the puppy to the neglected environment from which she came, with the hope that my neighbor might turn into someone who cares.

3. A two-income household sure makes a difference in your diggs.

Lately I’ve been in some two-parent homes where even when they have four kids, three dogs, and a bunny hopping around, it’s STILL nicer than mine. My guess is it’s because they’re able to afford regular carpet cleaning, enough drawers to cram clutter into, and real leather couches where spilled liquids and food slide right off.

This one particular home had no dirty kid prints on the wall, zero toys to trip over, AND the mom even worked full-time as a nurse. I remarked that their carpet, which was the same color mine used to be when I first moved in my place, was so clean, and the mom told me she considered it filthy and that it desperately needed to be steam-cleaned right away. I made a mental note to never invite her over to my casa, and if she ever did have to come over, say, to pick up her son, to not let her inside. Now granted, she has a live-in mother, which I suppose makes all the difference in the world. All I want to know is: Where can I get one of those?

4. Never give a guy your number out of politeness if you truly don’t want him to call you.

Sigh. This one. No matter how many years of experience I have with the opposite sex, I’m still a complete dolt when it comes to them. I was having this perfectly nice conversation with a 20-year-old who lives in my complex. We were chatting about random stuff; never once did the talk turn sexual in nature. When it was time to part, he asked for my number. EVERY time this happens to me I never assume the guy is interested in me. Either that or I freeze, have no response ready—like the sensible one: “Sorry, but I don’t give my number out, and end up giving him the damn thing.

Less than 3 minutes after leaving me, the kid texts me, asking me out. I told him he was nuts, he’s 20, and I wasn’t sure that was even legal. He then sends me a photo of his erect penis. Back in my day, men used to give out their business cards; now they send you pictures of their manhood in all its glory. In all fairness, the kid was a big boy…I mean like “You belong in porn huge…or the circus. I’m guessing he wanted a reaction from me somewhere along the lines of “Ooh-aah,” but all I kept thinking was “Ow” and “Gag.” I suppose I should have been flattered? But it was simply one more tiresome thing to deal with in my already overwhelmed life.

That was my week in review. How was yours?

WHEREVER THERE’S ONE KID THERE’S ALWAYS TWO MORE

Photo by kelsey e.

I gave birth to only one son, but he has two friends who are permanent fixtures in our house, so it’s like I have three sons. One of the boys is our next-door neighbor (I’ll call him Butthead), and he seems to never want to go home. Ever. And since his mom is a bit lax in the supervision department, there are times I literally have to kick him out—like at almost ten on a school night.

Either my house has a laxative effect or this kid has a bowel problem, because he comes over directly from his house and goes into my bathroom. And stays in there for like an hour. I’m not kidding. Usually, he has a video game he’s playing at the time, but still. Since there’s ten people living in his home, a cat, a puppy, some noisy parakeets, and a parrot that curses in Spanish, my guess is he comes over to my bathroom for some peace and quiet.

My son’s other friend (I’ll call him Beavis) may have a small crush on me. He never used to talk to me; whenever I would ask him questions, he’d stare at his feet and give me one-word answers. Now he’s like Chatty Cathy having coffee with me. Sometimes Beavis comes over and hangs out with me more than my son. He’s almost twelve, so I imagine hormones are starting to kick in. I need to watch what I wear to bed now though. No more prancing around in tight tanks or flimsy tops that gap at the neckline. God knows, I have no desire to be a MILF.

These boys were in my house the entire weekend. Usually, when they spend almost 24/7 together, they start getting physical with one another, somebody gets hurt, and then they need time away. This weekend the three of them were stuck together like Velcro. They went to each other’s soccer match, they played with Legos, the Wii, and my personal favorite: pelting one another with small objects so Mom can step on them later with bare feet.

I’ve trained myself to write through all these distractions. It’s a Catch-22. If my son’s not playing with anyone, he’s in my face asking, “What can I do? I’m bored.” When he is playing with his friends, I have to force myself to work through the realistic sounds of war (Thank you “Call of Duty-Modern Warfare”) and the pet names they have for one another, like “Dick” and “Ass.”

Part of me wants them here so I know what they’re doing, and who they’re doing it with. The other part wants to be at Club Med. Even when I get a break I don’t get a break. My son went to sleep over Butthead’s house Saturday night, but he didn’t decide to do that until 9:30 p.m. My twenty-six-year old neighbor hits the clubs once her kids are asleep. Me? I walked the diva and went to bed.

7:30 the next morning I awoke to pounding on the door. I staggered over and open it, my eyes still half-closed. In march Butthead and son. I stumble back into bed. Seconds later, Butthead’s puppy gets plopped on my head. I kick them all out of my bedroom and try to go back to sleep. Beavis arrives, and soon they’re all yelling and carrying on like a bunch of drunken frat boys. Sleep ain’t happening, because son ends up bursting in, jumping on me, and demanding to be fed.

Of course I have to cook for all three of them; they get to my house so damn early, neither of them has eaten yet. Once they have energy they start jumping all over each other, which causes the diva to bark, which causes the parakeets to screech. Right about that time is when I banish them to the outdoors.

But kids are like ants; even when you think you’ve taken care of the problem, they find a way back into the house. Before I had kids, I used to dread Mondays. Now I welcome them with a margarita in one hand, bleach wipes in the other.

SUMMERTIME AND THE LIVIN’ IS EASY

Photo by Thomas Tolkien

The beginning of summer is like New Year’s Day for me—an opportunity to set goals. I had a lofty writing goal this summer: Finish my current work-in-progress, a contemporary romance, or some may say, actually write it, since I was only at 20,000 words. No problemo. I had the entire summer ahead of me…

Three glorious uninterrupted months of my creative muse spoon-feeding me chocolate mousse and rubbing my tired shoulders whenever I became stuck. I had the days to sleep in late in order to “replenish the well,” and the nights to dress in my most luxurious dry clean only lingerie, while tapping away at the keyboard, listening to sultry jazz in the background, a glass of chilled Riesling by my side.

Seriously?

I’m a single mother of a ten-year-old boy. We have a diva Chihuahua, three cats, and two parakeets. And an invisible sign tacked up on our front door that says: “All kids welcome.”

Here’s an example of a typical day:

“Mom, wake up, the dog pooped in my room again.”

I stagger out of bed in my boxer shorts and ratty T-shirt to clean up said mess. The cats swarm around me, demanding to eat. No sooner are the cats fed when one promptly throws up on the carpet, not the floor right next to the carpet.

“Can you help me clean this up?” I shout to my son, who’s in his room playing video games.

“What? I can’t hear you, Mom, my game’s too loud!”

Next-door neighbor kid walks in my front door without knocking. “Morning.” Diva Chihuahua begins to bark furiously despite seeing this same kid every day.

“Can you make me breakfast, Mom?”

“Will you please help me—?”

“Can’t hear you, Mom, the birds are squawking too loud!”

A knock at the door. It’s another one of my son’s friends. Diva Chihuahua growls, spies one of our cats making a beeline out the front door, and takes off after her.

After rounding up the Diva and making breakfast for everyone, I eat whatever scraps my son has left on his plate, clean up the kitchen, throw in a load of laundry, grab a second cup of coffee (or third, or fourth), and finally sit down at my computer to write. It’s almost noon. I have a sex scene on the agenda.

My office is the dining room, without any doors. “All right,” I tell myself, “time to get in the mood. Think sexy thoughts.”

I start to type…

His fingers caressed the inside of her bare thigh—

“Mom, I’m hungry!”

slowly creeping up to discover she

“Mom, what are you going to make me?”

wasn’t wearing any underwear. Her smile gave him

“Mom, can you make a sandwich for my two friends also?”

permission to venture further. But first he planned to slowly undress her and

“Mom, come on! What are you doing?”

carry her to the bed where he’d

“Mom, we’re hungry. Come on!”

Heavy sigh. —just fuck her without any foreplay. The End.

Multiply this day times June, July, and August, and you have my summer.