“Sure,” I responded absently, typing away on my computer.
I knew my son Josh had arranged for a group of friends to go see Toy Story 3 the next day and I often cart his friends around for their various social engagements, so I didn’t give his request another thought.
Until I was blow-drying my hair the next morning, that is.
You know how it goes. You’re just standing there, drying your hair while you mentally go through your checklist for the day. Yeah, well all of a sudden connections began rapidly firing in my preoccupied perimenopausal brain. Snatches of previous conversations I’d had with my son whizzed through my head like Pinewood Derby cars on race day.
“Who are you texting right now, buddy?” “XXX, XXX and PRETTY GIRL.”
“Who’s coming over today?” “XXX, XXX and PRETTY GIRL.”
“Anyone special in your life right now, buddy?” “Yeah, PRETTY GIRL.”
Although we don’t permit dating until the age of 16, Joshua has been “going out” with PRETTY GIRL for the past several weeks. Not that they'd actually gone anywhere. Their relationship had thus far consisted of texting and an official change in their Facebook relationship statuses.
But now we were talking about a movie. And although they would be with a larger group of friends, we were picking PRETTY GIRL up to give her a ride. Which meant PRETTY GIRL and Joshua would be walking into the theater together. Which meant…
“Hey buddy,” I shouted over the whir of my blow dryer.
“Yeah, mom?” Josh appeared next to me in an instant, freshly showered and smelling kind of after-shavey.
“Er…?” It’s best to just say it. Just put it out there. “Josh, were you planning on paying for PRETTY GIRL’s ticket?”
He grinned broadly. “Yeah. I was gonna use my own money, though!” He added hurriedly, believing he was heading my concerns off at the pass.
A rush of strange feelings washed over me. Not all good.
“I have $32 in my wallet to cover popcorn and stuff, too,” he added. While Josh didn’t have a regular job, he’d been mowing a neighbor’s lawn and had a small stockpile of funds saved up.
“So…is this…uh, this is technically a date then?”
When our kids were young, my hubby and I had thought setting 16 as the official dating age seemed a reasonable, far-off-in-the-future number as we played with our giggling, tumbling toddlers.
Now, all I could say was….
WHAT THE HECK WERE WE THINKING?! Sixteen isn’t old enough! He’s only a baby! He can’t go on a date yet!
Breathe, Holly, breathe.
I left the bathroom and sat down hard on the edge of my bed, dropping my head between my knees and willing my heart rate to slow.
I looked up at my baby boy who had trailed after me, concern in his beautiful brown eyes. “You okay, mom?”
NO!!! “Yeah, I’m fine, buddy.” Deep breath in. Let it out. “You know, technically, you’re not allowed to date until you’re 16.”
He arched his brow at me.
“But,” I continued. “Since you’ll be 16 in two days, I suppose we’ll let this one go.”
His face cleared. “Thanks, mom!” He gave me a hug and left the room.
As we drove to PRETTY GIRL'S house, and just to show how mature I could pretend to be, I handed him a tissue to shove into his pocket. “I heard Toy Story 3 has an emotional ending,” I explained. “You’ll look good if you can hand her a tissue if she's crying or something.”
Instead of rolling his eyes at me like usual, he shoved the tissue into his pocket. I pulled up to the theatre entrance and watched as he, PRETTY GIRL and his friends all walked in. No hand holding. No looping the arm around the shoulders. No smooching. Okay, that’s cool. I can handle this.
Breathe, Holly. Breathe.
Image by: Tanjila