Father’s Day weekend my daughter was at the beach with a friend, so I got to have some good father/son time with my 10-year-old Aaron. We had a great time hanging out, playing video games, catching up on Iron Man and Iron Man 2 and eating manly food. I took him to Outback Steakhouse for the first time, and he loved it! My daughter did call me Sunday to wish me Happy Father’s Day, and we talked for quite a long time as she told me all the fun stuff she was doing with her friend.
Aaron will be 11 in a little over a month, and he’s got a serious crush on a gal at school and was lamenting not being able to see her all summer. When school was winding down a few weeks back I told him that the yearbooks they got at the end of the year offered the perfect opportunity to try and stay in touch– when they exchanged books to sign, he could ask for her phone number or give her his number so they could call over the summer. He flushed red at the suggestion, and said he just couldn’t do that. Not that I was in any moral high ground there– being too bashful or shy when it came to girls pretty much defined my adolescence and early adulthood. But quite a few girls I pined for from a distance and never made a move years later would tell me that they always wondered why I didn’t ask them out on a date. I told Aaron that regrets can really pile up if you let bashfulness rule your life.
Of course, he’s only 10, but still… as a dad I want my son to have much more success with girls and women that I did, and if I can lay some groundwork now before puberty hits and all those hormones and awkward body changes surge through him maybe I can help make things a bit easier for him.
Anyway, this weekend being filled with so much good father/son time, I mentioned to Aaron that part of my job as a father is teach him and impart what wisdom I’ve gained through the years. “If you have any questions about boys and girls, men and women and their bodies, sex or anything like that, I want you to feel free to ask me anything and I will do my best to give you a good answer.”
He nodded and thought for a few seconds. “I actually do have a question, Dad,” he said.
My mind raced, wondering what in the world he’d ask me.
“Why do girls try to control you so much?”
I had to laugh… my ten-year-old son, asking such a question? What sort of girls do they have at his elementary school? Of course, this is the sort of “mysteries of the universe” question that if I had a real good answer to I could probably write some books and retire a wealthy man. Aaron is a very bright and perceptive young man, but he’s still only 11 years old, so how to answer him?
“Well,” I said, “perhaps some try to control boys because they don’t feel strong in other areas, maybe they don’t feel physically as strong, or maybe their don’t feel like they have much say in what goes on at home, so trying to exert control over boys gives them that feeling of strength they’re missing.”
I thought a few moments more. “Also, I think sweet guys like you and me, we enjoy making other people happy, and sometimes people will take advantage of that, so whatever girl you like, make sure that she wants to make you happy too, and that you’re not just giving and she’s not just taking. Does that make sense?”
“Yes, I think so,” he said. “Thanks, Dad!”
Later, I mentioned this conversation to my roommate, who’s got the experience of having three ex-wives and numerous girlfriends over the years, and he laughed and laughed mightily. Of course, as grown-up divorced men we could certainly get cynical and dark when it comes to pondering why women try to exert such control over their men, but my son is just starting to tip-toe towards the wonders that the opposite sex hold out to us. It’s a helluva bumpy ride that lasts a lifetime full of ups and downs, and I want to do my best to give him the tools he needs to hopefully enjoy the trip. I hope he’ll ask me a lot of these sorts of questions in the coming years.