Or rather, he seems to have stumbled upon and dove head-first INTO puberty.
Shara calls me today, in what may be construed as a slight panic, with a touch of upset in her voice, and I wasn't quite sure if she was laughing or crying when she said my name when I picked up the phone. I'm still not sure.
"Hey girl, what's --"
"Marco is stroking his pole IN MY BATHROOM!!!" There's a conversation starter!
After much giggling, much "Oh. MY. GOD"-ing and much "ewwwwwww"-ing on the subject, we did discuss it, this fun and exciting topic of "hey, guess what - your kid isn't just a kid anymore, he's this guy with urges and pangs and a wiener that does something other than pee, and he therefore has the need to be alone with himself for a rousing game of plink your shplinky".
Being progressive, modern, hip moms of today, we don't want our kids, of whom Marco is the first to go through this stage, to feel shameful about masturbation, to feel as though there is something wrong with what he's doing in and of itself, or to feel that there is something wrong with him because of it. Quite the opposite - a healthy and clear understanding of our bodies' functions and why and how they work is essential to growing up to be a fine young man or woman.
Shara just wishes he'd do it in his OWN bathroom, and that he'd finish his homework first. The bathroom issue stems from, frankly, it being a little close to home for her to know it's going on in her own private bathroom. And as far as being up there making sweet love to himself when he's supposed to be studying, it's not like video games, or shooting hoops outside, or anything else one does before homework. Those things you can discuss, you can help to enlighten the boy on how to prioritize, how to do the hard stuff first and the fun stuff later...wait, that's a pun, unintentional, but a pun nonetheless... Really, think about it. It's just not the same to discuss those things as it is to have to have THIS conversation:
Mom: So son, it seems you're doing a little five-knuckle shuffle in the afternoon before your father and I get home; we're pretty sure because well, your belt is in my bathroom, where you usually aren't allowed to be, and some, um, adult-oriented media in our room has been moved.
Now, that's all peaches and cream (ha ha, cream, get it?) and I know you like doing that, but what we'd like to see you do is go ahead and finish your algebra BEFORE you go up and choke your chicken. M'kay? Alrighty then, that'd be dandy - now go get ready for supper...
And wash your hands, OK?
See? Nobody wants to have that moment. NOBODY. Not Shara, not Marco, and not me when it's Jackson's turn. I just threw up in my mouth a little bit when I typed that. He already thinks it's funny to slap his winky really hard, give it a pinch, and growl-slash-giggle "HA-HAAAAAAAA!". I can't imagine what that will mean for his sexual self in 10 years or so, and I don't care to ponder it for any length of time. Hell, I get nauseous thinking about Marco, and he's not my kid. But I DO remember him at about Jackson's age, and it seems like yesterday. Clearly though, it was NOT yesterday, since yesterday he was up in his mom's bathroom...you know...
So Shara is at a crossroads with this entire issue. Understandably she trying to figure out, along with her husband, what the best course of action is to refocus Marco's use of personal time, and prioritizing of when it's appropriate to have his "My Winky and Me Time" without bringing down a hailstorm of internal embarrassment and uncomfortable tension on the family that is like none they have ever known.
We now understand why our parents (most of them) operated out of the school of thought that said "don't talk about it, don't do it, and for god's sake, don't tell if you do": because it's ookie and weird and strange to have those discussions, to make those discoveries, and to have to change how we see our babies as they grow into men and women. that's why. But we strive to do better, to lessen the weirdness and the embarrassment just a little bit, by hopefully finding a way to communicate about these things in a way that shows love, trust, and openness within our families. Shara and I both know that while it's killer on the inside, it's best to dive in, breathe through the embarrassment, and let them know it's OK, but that there's a time and a place for everything. It's important to try to help everyone maintain their dignity and sense of worth while it's all going down.
Using words like "plink your shplinky" and "five-knuckle shuffle" are probably not great ways to do that, by the way. It's just funny as hell to say when the kid's not around. Same with the "cream" jokes. Not mature. Not mature at all. Go another route...take the high road, my friends. Don't be like me.
So mark that on the list of things I am not looking forward to. Shara, on the other hand, cannot WAIT for me to call her with that same tone of voice to announce with terror that Jackson is invading my bathroom in the afternoons. Misery loves company...right, Shara? Just remember who has more boys while you're waiting for my nightmare to begin, sweetie.
I'm teasing. You know I love you, and I promised to be as ooked out as you were on the phone today when I return the phone call, many, many years from now. Many. MANY. SOOOOO MANY. It better be at least ten. Maybe 12. I'd prefer 16.
Maybe I'll start putting salt peter in his milk when he's about 8.