Like most modern families, we were sitting around watching Tosh.O recently, waiting for a teaching moment to come along. It was a short wait. Our friend on the TV mentioned “spooning,” and Wonder Boy at the other end of the couch, with all of 14.75 years under his belt, so to speak, spoke up.
“What’s spooning?” he said tentatively.
“Snuggling,” said his dad.
I was impressed. He didn’t even try and pass that one to me. I liked the confidence. Or maybe, he was just afraid of what I’d say….
“Oh,” my son said with a confused look on his face. “I thought it was….”
I decided to step in at that point, as my son’s voice faded away.
“Well, actually, it can lead to….” I said, voice trailing off as I got The Look (head tilt, one eyebrow raised, nose pointed at the floor) from my husband. I decided to adjust. “But, it can just be platonic also.” At this point, it’s all platonic for him, I believe, from a practical standpoint, that is. Additionally, thanks to my word choice, he’d probably think we were now talking about the lovable, long-eared dog from Disney. Spooning is hugging your dog. We’re good to go now.
The next day, all of the usual things happened: my son used his new vocabulary word in a sentence; it was both innocent and inappropriate; I found it funny; my husband not so much; my son laughed hysterically but he didn’t know why.
“I’m taking Jackson to get that milkshake I owe him,” my husband said.
“And then we’re gonna spoon,” my son said, big-ass grin spread across his face.
We all froze. I laughed first. I had absolutely nothing to add and settled in for a nice, long chuckle. So did my son.
“Oh my god, Jackson, we’re not going to spoon,” said my deeply horrified husband.
“Ahhh, that’s sweet!” I said.
“Mom, can three people spoon?”
Finally, somebody said something.
“Oh….my….god…..” I yelled as I gasped for breath, laughing, snorting, and holding my ears to stop the bleeding.
14-year old boys.
It’s a bittersweet time of life. There is an end to 14-year old boyness. It’s not adulthood. It’s not childhood. It’s the change of boy to man; it’s running around and splashing in a pool with buddies, oblivious to everything but the game they’re playing one second, and waiting impatiently for the right girl to message them the next. It’s the mingling of boyhood, manhood, and everything in between, which any mother or father of young men recognizes as familiar. The duality of this stage of life can be appreciated by mothers also, as well as fathers. While fathers were once living it, mothers, as young women, were studying them. Carefully.
Many times this summer, my son could be found in our pool with a couple of buddies. Eventually, they’d decide to spend the night. I always said yes to these multi-person sleepovers. I liked knowing they were together, under my roof, where I could revel in the remaining time I have to enjoy them enjoying being home. I knew what to expect. After the pool, they’d disappear behind the door to my son’s room, surfacing only for food and an occasional trip to the bathroom.
They'd camp in front of the PS3, settled in for a marathon that generally carried them into the pre-dawn hours. I’d find them mid-morning, three across the bed, feet hanging off, controls slipped from their hands, snoozing in a fog of morning breath. They’d be in their clothes from the night before, or even still in their bathing suits.
Should one of them shift, even slightly, they’d be spooning.