My son started junior high today. Yes, junior high, the place where incoming 7th graders begin breaking free from the shackles of childhood to begin the arduous journey of self-discovery. As my boy walked the long walk from the car to the campus, I stopped to consider the many emotions he might experience on his first day: Would he get frustrated at his locker? Would he panic trying to make it to each class on time? Would his heart awaken at the sight of a pretty new girl who has hair that smells of coconuts? Would he even tell me if it did?
Sure, it’s been 25+ years since I braved the hallways of my junior high in acid-washed Guess jeans, but I remember it well. I remember how within a few short weeks, boys and girls coupled up. I remember slow dancing to Boys II Men and hand-holding on the roller skating rink. I remember boys who would kiss and tell and the girls who did all the kissing. But what I remember most of all was not feeling ready for any of it.
And that’s where my son is right now – not ready. He’s still a kid who watches SpongeBob and plays Connect Four with his little brother. He rides bikes, builds Legos and turns every possible shade of crimson when lovers kiss during movies. He’s young and naïve and while I expect that girls are on his radar, he’s wildly shy when it comes to matters of the heart. And why shouldn’t he be? He’s 11. So why do strangers insist on asking him if he has a girlfriend? [Read more…]