Ease and Grace and Frank Conversations

It began innocently. Carter playing a game on my iPhone impatient to go to an appointment he didn’t want to go to because he didn’t want to miss school. Who WAS this child? The text message that popped up was meant for my eyes only. Carter’s eyes widened. I cursed. Blushed. Told him it was meant for me only. I fumbled, words lost. How to explain?

Later on the phone I heard his frustration. “Maybe your phone should be off limits.”

“But… he was just playing a game.” The text was not the point. The truth was that I had been hiding him from my kids, attempting to slow the pace for them, give them time to get used to this change in their lives. But in effect I was sneaking around, not telling them the whole truth, and it was showing. “Its not my right to tell you how to raise your kids, but…” I didn’t want to hear those words that all single mothers dread. I felt like a cat, hair raised, ready to strike. But I tempered. “Ease and Grace,” he said. “That is what we bring to our canvas. That is what we need to introduce to your kids. Show them our sense of ease and grace so they can have it too. We will model it for them. But it’s going to take a frank conversation.” And he was right. It was time to be completely honest with my kids. This is happening. It is past the stage of maybe.

Later I picked Carter up from school for another ear appointment. We weathered the news that he needs a new set of tubes. His hearing is still compromised. The drive home gave me the opportunity to have our frank conversation. The issue of S.E.X. in a ten-year old boy seems to be the foremost concern. My “it’s none of your business,” became a straightforward “Yes. This is something adults do and enjoy. It is something I do and enjoy. It would be something I would do and enjoy with whomever I was dating. It is not a bad thing.” This was followed by many very frank questions. Ones I didn’t want to answer, unsure the answers were appropriate for a ten-year old boy. But I answered them all truthfully. “From now on I am going to be perfectly honest with you. I need you to understand that I love you just the same way I always did, even though there is a new person in my life. But he is in your life now too. And he might just offer you some pretty great things too, if you give him a chance.”

His shoulders straightened. I could almost hear him grow up. “How would you like things to go, I asked, “in terms of getting to know him?” I needed him to feel in control, feel vested in how things were going to proceed, at least with regards to his interaction with the new man in his life. “Maybe invite him over for some dinners and stuff?” “I can do that,” I said.

The next day, I tried to have the same conversation with O. “I don’t feel like talking about that now.” And so we didn’t. When he came over for dinner, the only interaction they all had was during the 10 minutes it took the kids to eat before they skittled back upstairs and closed their doors. He laughed. I guess this is what he means by “dinners and stuff.” Later we watched a DVD, cuddling in my bed (still waiting for a new couch for the basement) while Carter sat on the floor and built a cardboard model of the World Trade Center for a class project which he is basing on the non-fiction book he chose to read: 102 Minutes: The Fight To Survive Inside the Twin Towers. Not a book I will ever read, but one that is part of Carter’s journey. When he was done, he threw the models at us and we praised.

The irony was not lost. There will be many awkward, jerky steps before we can dance with ease and grace.

5 Comments

  1. annie May 3, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    I didn’t have to engage in a discussion about sex with my daughter because she was four and it wasn’t appropriate. I did need to set the stage for R’s sleeping in my bed with me. She was not ruffled really. She understood – from what source I don’t know – that this is what “moms” and “dads” did and by this time, R and I had already decided that we were going to marry at some near point.

    I think parenting in general is awkward and jerky with ease and grace being the goal but rarely the main state.

  2. christina adams May 5, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    I was single for two and a half years and didn’t share much of my kid with dates before finding my long-awaited great love on Yahoo.com personals. I did tell my son I was dating but he was only 7 when we split, so I kept it very impersonal. He wanted me to get remarried and tried to point out people I might like in public. Funny kid! Now we are happily in a new blended family. I have the home life I always wanted. It can be done! Just determine what you really want and look for it. I described my ideal man online and low and behold, he answered :-).

    1. Abigail - Site Author May 7, 2010 at 9:43 pm

      Yes, I am feeling that similar sense of asking and you shall receive. I do wish my kids were younger, as I think it would make folding a new someone into the mix a little easier. Maybe I can borrow your son? He sounds like a charm.

  3. BigLittleWolf May 6, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    I’m happy for your new someone in your lives. And it sounds like you handled things in a very open and appropriate fashion. I am also a believer in honesty and real answers to real questions – appropriate to each child’s readiness, and recognizing boundaries.

    As a largely solo parent for 9 years, all the important discussions were left to me. I’ve taken each question as it has come, and handled far more than I ever thought I would – as the mother of sons!

    As for ease and grace – they’re admirable goals, but nothing is easy or as graceful as it appears to someone outside, looking in.

    1. Abigail - Site Author May 7, 2010 at 9:41 pm

      Thanks BLW for your vote of support. Its like feeling your way blind at times, isn’t it?

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