There is a new development in our house…Master Z has a girlfriend.
And not just a ‘Will you go out with me?’, then five seconds later ‘You are dropped’ type of girlfriend. This one seems genuine. They chat all the time on the phone and via social media, and have spent quite a few occasions in each other’s company over the holidays. She is a very sweet girl, I’m pleased to say that I approve of his taste. Polite, sensitive and friendly, this young lady has spent a few social occasions with us as a family recently.
I like her.
But I’ll also be honest and say I feel completely ill-equipped.
Call me strange, but I had not considered all the ramifications of my fifteen and a half year old son having a steady girlfriend before he dropped the out-of-the-blue bombshell on us. Of course we are thrilled for him, he is very happy and the new girl seems very good for him, but it has progressed us to the next stage of parenthood somewhat sooner than I would have liked.
Let’s keep it in perspective…I have only just finished breastfeeding Miss L a couple of months ago. And we are still, as we speak, working towards Master C successfully wiping his own backside. The fact that I have a hormone driven teenager also in the house with his own agenda tends to escape me at times.
Master Z is in Year Ten. He is now dating steadily and will be sitting behind the wheel of my car later on this year. Earlier this week, he popped himself down to the train station to go catch a train and meet his new woman for a movie date. Alone. So between his two houses, we have all of a sudden had to educate ourselves on what the appropriate rules and regulations are for this new uncharted territory we call ‘teenage dating’.
As much as I trust him, it’s terrifying.
I think back to my adolescence and am smacked in the face with how useless my experience is to draw on. I was not, in the slightest, interested in going on dates and having a steady boyfriend during high school. Or even in my University years. Chasing after my favourite female teacher at school occupied far too much of my time for that nonsense. Go figure.
So I have relied on the experiences of trustworthy others who have travelled this path before me, namely my work colleagues to guide me. Thank goodness for their wisdom! I’m trying really hard not to be the archaic naysayer who makes it exceedingly difficult to be cool, by imposing all kinds of rules and regulations…But there are so many things to consider.
What is appropriate couple behaviour for fifteen year olds?
What rules do I need to put in place to ensure that boundaries are respected?
How often should they be communicating?
How do I ensure this all gets kept at the level it should be for his age?
Obvious fears aside, I worry about the emotional toll of having relationship issues to contend with on top of the regular pushes and pulls of high school life. My big boy is a softie. He wears his heart on his sleeve and tends to leap into things without always thinking them through (must be a trait he gets from the donor).
How do I guide him to keep this whole romance in perspective?
Over the Easter holidays, the last couple of events we have hosted with friends and family have involved Master Z inviting his girlfriend, and them watching movies together in their room. Yes I can hear it from here – what? You are letting him entertain in his room??? I know, I know. But our house has limited entertaining space and more munchkins around than you will find along the Yellow Brick Road, so as long as the door is open at all times, I am ok with this, as are his girlfriends’ parents.
In saying this though, I still feel like I need to casually saunter past every now and then, much to Master Z’s insistence that ‘Nothing is going on!’
I am sure he considers me a source of tremendous embarrassment.
Should I be leaving them be, and just hoping for the best? Who knows? It feels like fifteen years is pretty much all we get to raise and educate our son to be a decent, respectful human being, and somehow I missed the warning bell along the way reminding me that our time was nearly up.
Many conversations in our house are taking place as we stumble through this together, and I’m relieved as Master Z seems comfortable talking to us openly about his issues. He has wonderful friends and many other older mentors in his life that he can chat to also. It’s yet another of the moments in parenting where it would be great to have that guidebook to consult, or an ‘adultier adult’ around to tell you how to navigate these signposts along the way.
So as I make my way down the hallway to yet again assist Master C in wiping his backside, I will just have to trust that all in Master Z’s life is progressing as it should.
Those of you who have travelled this path before, I’m keen to hear your best piece of advice for this lovely little chapter of teen life… My younger kids thank you in advance.