His mother has never been one to accept the fact that her little boy is no longer a little boy. At 5 '7, 210 pounds, he's really more like a linebacker. Forget asking him to unscrew the pickle jar, or haul heavy stuff around the house. I ask him to go beat up people for me - like that kid who keeps shooting plastic BB's into our yard. Sometimes I just bring him along for the intimidation factor - like when I have to go the auto mechanic. "Okay, I'll take your word for it that my carburetor is shot. But if I find out you're lying, my step-son here will have to pay you a visit - and it won't be a friendly visit, capiche?"
Right before the linebacker came to our house, my husband got a panicked phone call from his ex. Once he got the screeching to stop, he managed to figure out what the problem was. Apparently the lad was touching himself quite frequently these days. And she wanted it to stop.
"When he comes there for the summer, I want you to have a talk with him. He's not to touch himself anymore!" she cried.
"Did you talk to him about it?" my husband asked her. "What did you say?"
"I told him it was gross and disgusting and that he should wait until he's married to touch himself."
Nice. Confuse the boy for life. After all, don't you need to touch yourself the most when you AREN'T married and don't have a built in outlet? And I'd be more worried if the boy wasn't touching himself at this point. Men just like to touch themselves. It's normal for them, like laughing at their own farts. Hell ... I still can't get my husband to take his hands out of his pants sometimes.
I grew up in a family where we didn't talk about sex ... didn't even acknowledge it existed. I got all my information about sex from the playground. I remember in elementary school when someone said something about masturbation, causing all the other kids to laugh. I didn't know what the hell it meant, and my lack of laughter obviously gave my naivety away. The kids jumped on me like I was a trampoline made out of Skittles. "You don't know what masturbation is! HA HA ... LOSER!" they said. "I DO SO!" I insisted. This went on for awhile until I broke down crying and ran away. When I asked my mother later what masturbation was, she looked at me horrified and told me what I didn't know couldn't hurt me.
I always told myself I would never put my kids through that. When I was in college, I knew a girl whose parents had always been very open with her about sex, and she just seemed so much more at ease with herself because of it. She wasn't as insecure as all of us who had to look up masturbation in the dictionary. I vowed to be like her parents and not have my kids feeling bad about sex, or like it was something dirty or secretive. So naturally, this whole thing with my step-son upset me. I vowed to be the cool chick who would be calm and rational about his pubescent changes. I'd be open and honest, and emphasize he was normal and healthy.
Then he came to our house, and my plan began falling apart. I wasn't as liberal as I thought, I found out. I wasn't as cool as I wanted to be. To be honest, I became a little nuts. I started worrying when he took long showers, or stayed in his room for hours that he was TOUCHING HIMSELF the whole time. I became afraid of going into his room or touching his laundry - especially after a friend at work told me that her step-sons used to jack off into their socks. Jacking off in socks is a long-held male secret that many women don't know about. Apparently, its just a good way to keep it contained and off the wall or floor. Even my friend didn't know about this at first. For a long time, she would pick up these crusty, stiff socks from their room without any understanding why they were so foul. Then her husband told her what they were probably doing, and she was never the same again. When she relayed this story to me, I was never the same again either.
I began viewing my step-sons socks with suspicion, and a little nausea. If I saw his hands near his crotch at any time, I had to suppress a panic attack. Was he going to touch himself? WAS HE?!!!
No matter how cool of a parent you think you are, it is just weird to see your kids turn into adults. It wasn't just my step-son's mom that had a hard time seeing him as growing up. Apparently I was having some issues too. I have known him since he was 5, and it just seemed weird to think of him as almost being a man - a man with urges and thoughts and a penis with a mind of its own. Soon I would be giving him handfuls of condoms and telling him I wasn't going to be raising any babies he accidentally fathered. Where had the time gone?
I have held it together so far - and have managed to deal with the whole situation by making his FATHER deal with the whole situation for me. And I've also taught the boy to do his own laundry, avoiding the whole sock phobia I've developed. I'm sure I'll get used to it over time. But right now, I'm taking my mother's advice and hoping that what I don't know - or don't want to know - won't hurt me. Or him, for that matter.