Sunday, March 19, 2006

It's Not You; It's Me

Forget about the perils of having children too young. I wish I'd had my son immediately after being born myself. Then, I'd have been a mother to a fourteen year old boy when I was fourteen myself, and I could have saved myself a lot of heartache.

Raising a son is providing more insight to the male psyche than umpteen years of dating could ever have accomplished.

Today, a young lady has been calling about every fifteen minutes. (and I mean it. She is a young lady, as opposed to some of the girls in his school I've met who seem to be campaigning to be President of the Future Homewreckers of America, or the American Harlot Society).

That's right. Every fifteen minutes, as if she has set an alarm. She has not left a message. She might not realize that we have caller ID. We are not a household which readily answers the phone. Our motto is: If it's someone we want to talk to, they will try our cell phones. We largely ignore the landline in favor of eating, watching television, and watching paint dry.

My son has embraced this philosophy wholeheartedly. There is little that will rouse him from an Xbox game, and the phone is not on the short list. He'll hear it ringing and, along with us, ignore it.

This does not set well with some of his female friends. They call with the regularity of healthy bowels. And refuse to leave messages. My son's name is on our answering machine; this should serve as a welcome beacon to anyone calling him. It does for his male friends. The girls, however, seem allergic to the notion of letting him know they've called and requesting a call back. In fact, 7 out of 10 times, they won't admit to ME that they're calling. If I answer, pronounce him unavailable and ask to take a message, they almost always respond, "No, that's okay," and hang up.

That's when I give him the following message: "There are eight hundred girls in your school. One of them called."

To which he responds, "Okay."

It's not that he's not interested in them. He spends hours crafting notes to these creatures, and talks to them on the phone for long stretches of time. WHEN IT IS CONVENIENT FOR HIM.

I know what they're going through. When I was fourteen, a boy not calling meant he wasn't interested. Or so I thought. I wish someone had just clued me in that it was not a lack of interest that kept the phone from ringing, it was Atari. Or a television show. Or a basketball game. I can't imagine the self esteem I would now be in possession of had I once considered that the reason so and so didn't call me back immediately was because he was busy blowing up invaders from space on his tv screen, and not because he was trying to wrestle Adrienne Whatshername from her panties.

I told my son moments ago that the girl called again. He shrugged and continued selecting team members for his Xbox NBA team. I asked if he was going to call her back. He said no. I asked why. He said, "It's almost tomorrow. It's not like I won't see her in twelve hours."

Ladies: print out this blog. Post it in all the bathrooms you enter. Call up your nieces and insist on a family meeting for your daughters. If only we were capable of being that non plussed. You know that after calling my son for the twentith time, she immediately dialed one of her girlfriends to discuss the fact that no one answered, where he might be, and what increment of time she should let pass before attempting to dial again.

And all the while my son is dribbling computer animated basketballs and asking if there's any microwave popcorn left. There's plenty of time for romance; who needs to deal with it now?

If I could bottle this knowledge or travel back in time, I would. I do not even know if my child would exist right now, if I'd only known.

Hindsight is 20/20? You betcha.

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