IT’S ALL ABOUT THE HAIR

James Dean

It’s been a while, so I thought I’d give an update on how life is with a 13-year-old boy. We have a sudden newfound preoccupation with all things hair. Starting with the hair on the head, my son has adopted what I guess is similar to a James Dean hairstyle—short on the sides and back, with upright wave-like hair on top. Thanks to the Internet (no, really, thank you), the boy can scroll through a gazillion photos, trying to find the hairstyle he likes and then come to me and ask me to duplicate it.

I gave birth to a boy for a reason. I’m not a girlie-girl. I don’t do girlie things. I mean, I don’t drive an 18-wheeler or chop wood or anything, but I bite my nails, don’t know how to do a smoky eye, and have never once blown dry or curled my hair. I’m more of a “How to pull myself together in 7 minutes or less without being labeled ‘homeless’ by the outside community” kind of girl.

So when my son asked me to style his hair one day, I directed him to his other parent for help: YouTube. Anything you want to know how to do, there’s a video for it. It’s mind-boggling. Unfortunately, with the desire for fancy hair comes the need for fancy haircuts, so bringing him to the ghetto part of town for a $5 haircut by women who don’t speak English no longer flies. And now whenever we go out, even if it’s to Walmart, it takes him 25 minutes to do his hair, because “you never know who you might see there.” (Oh, I have an idea of who we might see at Walmart and it ain’t pretty.)

We’re also at the stage where it’s of critical importance to evaluate ALL hair on the body. We’ll be driving and he’ll say, “Look at the dark hair on my legs. Look at it. In the sun. Can you see it? Can you? Look at how much there is. There’s a lot, isn’t there? See?” He has no hair yet under the arms or on the chest; it’s all in the pubic area, so I’m privy to the day-by-day account of its growth. He counted them when there were only a few sparse hairs. Now, with the onslaught of pubic hair, it’s a source of pride and warrants bragging rights.

I get it. I vaguely recall comparing my blossoming chest size to every other girl who crossed my path at school. I remember marveling over my pubes, and being ecstatic over the fact that I had gotten my period before my best friend. These are all extremely important milestones as a kid. As is the big M.

Masturbation.

I could pretend my son has monkish tendencies or very low testosterone, but that would be taking the “ostrich in the sand” approach—something I see mothers all around me doing when it comes to their kid and sex. But I’m more savvy than that. I know that once boys discover the wonders of masturbation it literally rivals all other activities…until they begin the quest of trying to find girls to do it for them.

I’m not going to lie. Porn scares me nowadays. The fact that one can find any kink with just a few taps of the keys is disconcerting. Back in my day (yes, I’m starting to use that phrase now) if you wanted to watch porn you had to go to a mafia-owned XXX movie theater with sticky floors. Which men did. But not women. No, no, no. The first porn DVD I ever saw was with my gay friend and it was the Pamela Anderson/Tommy Lee honeymoon one and it was so awful we laughed our way through the entire thing. I didn’t watch another porn for like 15 years because 1. I sure in the hell wasn’t going to walk into an adult store alone and buy one, 2. I sure in the hell wasn’t going to go into that section of the local video store alone and rent one, and 3. A $300 charge for porn once arrived on the Internet bill because my dumbass ex didn’t realize he was clicking on something he had to pay for, so that pretty much put the fear of watching web porn into me.

Anyway, I told my son porn would destroy his growing brain just like drugs would, and no, I don’t feel guilty for that. “If you promise you won’t masturbate to porn, I’ll buy you a Playboy. You can masturbate to that.” He agreed, we pinky-swore, and then we went out in search of a Playboy. Well. Let me tell you how hard it is to find a damn Playboy in this day and age. I must have gone into no less than thirteen 7-11s and liquor stores, claiming I was a writer needing one for research. And the places that did have dirty magazines had ones which were just as bad as porn.

For $15 I ordered one online. I wished there was a magazine out there I could give my son which would provide a more sex-positive experience—maybe one with pictures of teenage girls with various body types, including plus-size, and no airbrushing, so he could have a more realistic view of “real” women, but then I realized there are probably many of them out there. For pedophiles, and that’s extremely icky, and grounds for arrest.

We’re lying to ourselves if we think teens aren’t going to access porn on the Internet. Sure, we can block it in our homes, but there will always be that one friend who has “Ass Ventura Crack Detective” bookmarked on their phone. I can only pray my son doesn’t grow up thinking all women have huge fake breasts and tight asses. Or expect a nurse who’s examining him to suddenly unzip his pants and start sucking him off. I hope he realizes that only women who do strenuous yoga and/or perform in Cirque de Soleil can contort their bodies into absurd positions while every orifice is filled.

Sigh. Welcum to the Information Age.

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TESTOSTERONE IS SOME FUNKY STUFF

BOOBS

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.