It is prom season – that magical time when kids dress up like grown-up. Aside from weddings it is the biggest dress up even any of them will ever attend. It is a passage. It is all blown out of preparation too. Too much time, money, emotional energy and expectations come out of these things.
But it was a lovely night for my son Garrett and his friend Ione. He was handsome in his dad’s exquisitely cut vintage tux. She was beautiful in a strapless blue gown. It was enchanting. I was so happy for them and all of their group of Vampire teens (and their other friends too).
And we had a warm and fuzzy glow all over for a while, until Garrett found himself alone with me. Nobody else was home. Leaned across the kitchen counter towards me, looking so much like his father.
“Mom? Do you have a minute to talk? I want to tell you something. Um, Ione and I, you know, since my birthday, um, we’re both 17. We’re more mature than most kids our age. So…I just wanted you to know…”
I froze. My entire body froze. My mind went numb. It shouldn’t have been a big deal, but it was, and it is and I wished he’d never told me. I thought I was ready for this but I wasn’t.
“Ione and I have been…” He stopped.
I hoped he’d say something like we’ve been playing poker but I knew what was coming. He knew that I knew.
Garrett continued. “We’ve been…we’ve taken our relationship to the next level.”
To the next level. My 17-year-old son actually said that. “Are you being responsible?” I had to ask.
“Yes. Always.” He said that so matter of fact it.
“Your body might be ready but be careful with your heart. Be careful with your emotions,” I gently told him.
“I know mom. I just wanted you to know, I’m not with just anyone. We’re both Vampires. We go on hunts so we’re not little kids anymore. We know what we’re doing. And it wasn’t like it just happened. It was like time for Ione and me.”
I doubted that. I didn’t say anything.
“Mom. It’s ok mom.” He touched my arm as if to make sure I was ok with it too.
“What about Ione?” I had to ask.
“Ione is fine. She’s great. We’re great.”
We stood in silence for a bit. For the first time I was totally and completely caught off guard by my emotions and reaction. I’m a modern parent. I talk with my kids. We’re open and honest. I’ve raised my children to be responsible and mature. I haven’t sheltered them. I should have been neutral on the situation but suddenly Garrett seemed different.
I still called him baby. He still sits on the couch and hold my hand and put his head on my shoulder just like when he was a tiny little Vampire boy. Logically it should all make sense and I should have been expecting this. But I don’t know.
I wasn’t going to congratulate him or tell him they could spend the night together.
My son put his hand on mine. “I love you mom. You’re not mad at me are you?”
“No. A little surprised. Just don’t get hurt. Be careful.”
“I am careful.” He shifted around, and fooled around with the zipper on his sweatshirt. Then he looked up at me and I know the gears in his brain were working overtime. “Mom?”
“Who was your first prom date?”
Finally an easy answer for me. “We really didn’t have proms. We have fancy balls. But for my first ball it was your Uncle Val. I went to my first ball with my brother. It was 1876 or 77. A lot was going on so Val and I decided just to go together. It was fun. We had a good time, more so than if we’d gone with a date. Funny thing was that our clothes were a lot like yours. Still formal and fancy.”
Obviously that wasn’t the answer he was looking for. He shifted a bit again then fired the next question. “Who was your first? The first guy you slept with. I know it wasn’t dad.”
Another hit-me-in-the-head-with-a-brick moment. He totally caught me off guard. “The first guy I slept with? He was another Vampire. He was older and attractive and…my parents never knew. My brother’s didn’t know. They still don’t know. None of them know. I’ll tell you another time. I was your age, and it was risky and stupid and…it doesn’t matter.” I told him, feeling like I’d said too much. Way too much.
“Who was it?”
“I can’t tell you, not right now.”
“Mom, why are you whispering?”
Memories flooded back from the dark dusty corners of those disorganized proverbial file cabinets in my brain. For the first time in my 153 years I felt old. Then my mind went back to my own son who was a lot more responsible and worldly and level headed than I ever was at 17 – even as a 17 year old Vampire.
Garrett didn’t ask me about my mystery man again, but that doesn’t mean he won’t ask about him in the future. Right now my mind is on my son’s future and not my own past.
This is why parenting isn’t for the faint of heart. It isn’t for the meek. It isn’t for the uncomfortable. It is for the long haul. The best we can do is to parent deliberately and educate or kids, so when they make those life choices we can’t control, we’ll be ready. Most of all, so they’ll be ready. Because like it or not…they grow up.
Later in the week Ione came by. I didn’t say a word to her about my conversation with Garrett. I did show her the 137 year old gown I’d worn to my first fancy ball. She smiled and asked if she could try it on. Of course it fit her as if it had been made for her. She is a darling girl and I know she’ll break my son’s heart. But I know they’ll stay friends. On the other hand, nobody knows anything really.
And I’ve talked myself into a corner…so that is it for today.
~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman
Advocate of deliberate parenting and talking with your kids (and being firm and teaching them about consequences and loving them with all your heart and soul.)