Wednesday, November 08, 2006
PASS THE SALT
“Mom, I need to talk to you,” my fifteen-year-old says as he steps into my office and closes the glass-paned door behind. I hear the white wooden chair being pulled out from the wall behind me and I disengage my thoughts from the report that stares out of my computer, grateful for the interruption. Swiveling my chair around, I see my son bent forward, elbows on the knees of his ripped jeans, hands clasped together in front of his chin. A face to face conversation approaching, I brace myself inside.
“Have you found anything of mine?” he asks through the long strands of hair hanging down across his face.
“Like what?” I ask, “Have you lost something?”
“Just anything. Have you found something that belongs to me? Like five things?”
Confused, intrigued and certain that this will require a parenting lecture that I’m not prepared for, I tell him to be straight and ask the question he came in with.
My jaw locked and then slowly fell open, eyes bulging. My head snaps upward as I open my mouth to speak. “You’re having SEX?”
His hands unclasped and gestured palms down in a way to indicate that I should control myself. “Relax Mom, no I’m not having sex.”
“Then what are you doing with five condoms?” I try to collect myself, remembering the importance of being approachable as a parent.
“Alright, you see, it’s hard for a fifteen year old to get a job. Lots of my friends have applied all over town and the all of the employers want you to be sixteen….”
“You have a job that requires CONDOMS?” I shriek in a voice that isn’t sure if it’s meant to be rage or hysteria.
“God Mom, calm down,” he collects himself upright in the chair. "See, I’ve started a business. Kids are too embarrassed to buy condoms for themselves, and I’m not, so I buy them, and then I sell them to kids for more than I paid and I make money.”
Oh, capitalism, I think. Supply and demand. Free market trade. Many a success story comes from entrepreneurs capable of recognizing a market demand and filling it. “You’re a CONDOM DEALER?” I yell.
“Geez Mom, calm down. It’s not illegal. I’m not selling drugs. Condoms are perfectly legal and besides, if a kid was going to have sex, you’d want them to be safe wouldn’t you? So it’s kind of a public service. For the good of the community.” he smiles a weak smile, head bent in that ‘come on, you understand don’t you’ way.
My head is spinning with a hundred remarks and I don’t know what it will spit out first. “Where exactly do you get the condoms?”
“CVS,” he answers and I wonder if the cashier is someone I know. Did you see Nancy’s son in again for condoms? That’s 20 this week! I feel compelled to find out who the cashier is so I can explain that my son is NOT having sex with every girl at school. No, he’s just the school’s CONDOM DEALER!!!!!
“You can probably get arrested!” I tell him, hoping to pull out something intelligent about wholesale/retail license laws.
“I’ve only sold one,” he treads lightly in self defense, “OK well if you find them…” he begins and decides it best to leave while I am speechless.
Salt bath, I think. A wise woman recently told me that a salt bath has a way of calming and washing negativity down the drain. I hate baths, but tonight might be my maiden voyage.
“Mom,” son number two approaches with a smile, “Are you in a good mood?” My twelve-year-old enters with a giddy face, saucer blue eyes twinkling mischievously.
“Probably not,” I answer just clearing the path to “NO” for the loaded question I am sure he holds. Hand slowly moves from behind his back triumphantly holding a role of toilet paper forward, grin spreading across his cheeks.
“It’s mischief night and all the kids in my school agreed to paper one tree,” a well practiced look of longing slips across his face. “Can I? Just one?”
“Absolutely not!” I bark and rattle off the description of vandalism.
“It’s just toilet paper,” he looks bewildered, “It’s not like egging a house or the bologna and mustard stuck to the car thing.”
I don’t even ask what the bologna and mustard thing is; don’t want to know. He continued to plead his case at dinner to his father and I, but we hold our ground.
“I’m the only one who won’t be going out.” he shakes his head, sad eyes blinking. I explain that other parents don’t condone this type of activity so he will certainly not be the only one. I should have then gone on to speak about standing on principal and doing what is right, but instead…
“No one will actually know if you did or didn’t go out,” comes out of my mouth, offering him a read between the lines face-saving solution.
His brows crunch, mouth turned down on the edges in disgust, “You want me to LIE about it?” he snorts righteously, “I would never LIE!”
Oh good, I think, at least half of his moral backbone is intact: Vandalism OK. Lying not OK.
I hear the Morton’s box calling me from the spice cabinet, Forget the Calgon, Take Me! Oh yes, a salt bath is looming.
Later on an errand into town, my eight-year-old remarks about a female couple that we saw walking on the sidewalk. “Mommy, are they in love?”
“Yes, I believe so.” I answer.
She is quiet for a bit.
“Is that strange for you?” I open the conversation, not sure I am up for any more this day.
“No,” my daughter says with ponder on her face, “Actually, I’m OK with that. God just made us each who we are, and He meant for us to be on this earth and be attracted to someone else to be together to raise a family. So it really doesn’t matter if a woman is attracted to a woman or a man to a man; if they’re in love, its how God made them.”
I am impressed by her open acceptance of what is clearly a foreign subject and before I can say anything, she continues, “And for me when I’m an adult, I think I’ll be attracted to men and women.”
Oh great honey, and maybe you can join a COMMUNE with free love and be a nudist!
How did I get here?
This is not my planet and these are not my people!
Where did the little tow-head, bowl cut, blue-eyed babies go and how did I end up with COMMUNE-LIVING, VANDALIZING, CONDOM DEALERS?
I wonder how cold the ocean actually is at the end of October. I will need much more than a bathtub of salt water to wash this day off!