Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Talk

Grown up questions from my kids are coming at me fast and furious this week. Here is one of the topics Oliver threw at me last night.

The inevitable has happened...Oliver has started to ask me about girls. He has always had an interest in girls but he is now at a point where he is seeking me out for advice. Why he thinks I would be a good source for advice is beyond me. My own track record with women is spotty at best. We have had THE TALK and have revisited the topic of sex from time to time. While I am about as comfortable as I am going to get about this I was unprepared for last night's chat.

Anyway... there are two girls who apparently like Oliver. One has been a classmate of Oliver's for a few years and the other is a grade ahead of Oliver and has known him for years. For some reason he feels as though he needs to choose one of these girls in whom to be interested. I tried to assure him that this was something he was too young to worry about and all he simply needs to do is be honest and be kind. He then asked me what I would do and how I would choose between the two

I tried to give him the pat answers I imagine most Dads give their sons in these situations. I told him that its important that that the person be nice, and smart, and funny. Oliver persisted. He wanted to know what was important to me. I tried to put him off but he chased me down a conversational alley and the only way out was to turn around give him what he wanted and then I could be on my way. Besides...Oliver approached me as a young man so I thought I owed him the courtesy of treating him like a young man.

Then I gave him the secret to the relationship universe. I told him that if he met someone for whom he was willing to do anything, sacrifice anything, made him feel capable of doing anything, who made him feel more comfortable with himself than he had ever felt before then he would walk around with the feeling that he had just hit a home run. I tried to convey to him the idea of what it was like to be with someone who made him feel like his best possible self and what a powerful gift that was. I also told him that is what is important to me...but that everybody is different and that with experience he will better understand whats important to him. I told him that I gave him an adult answer to an adult question but that as a teenager it was more than enough for him to like and care for someone.

I had realized that my son and I had our first conversation about love and that it was a more important conversation than then the ones about sex. And I think he got it and I think he understood that as a teenager there are some feelings that he should not worry about. He asked if I had ever felt this way before. I told him I felt this way about him, his brother, and his sister. Oliver told me that was not what he meant and I stopped him short as he was about to mention a name. Oliver realized he already knew the answer to his question. We spoke for a while longer. He then went of to bed. I remained in my chair to ponder.


  1. Ah, yes, THOSE questions... Well answered (and written), Tom.

  2. I like that you gave the love talk as much importance as the sex talk. I think it is often overlooked ... I think you may have just set the foundation for your son to build successful relationships in his future.