If that's foreplay, Alex said as he walked into our room last night as I helped Char stretch, I'm pretty sure you're doing it wrong.
To which Char sputtered, You better not know what the hell you're talking about.
Alex shrugged it off. He had things to discuss with us, none of which had anything to do with what he might or might not know about foreplay (which for Char's sake is a good thing, because she cannot handle the concept. She would have bolted from the room.) His first question was innocent: are we planning a family vacation over the summer? Because he needs to know; registration for summer classes begins soon, but if we're planning on going somewhere, he'll skip the summer.
I would like him to skip the summer semester regardless; he doesn't have very many summers left where he can just be a kid. He sees not taking classes as being unproductive, but if we don't want him to, he'll ask Grandpa for an extra work shift or two.
We asked him to skip the summer semester. We don't have plans, but we might want to take the kids somewhere on a whim. Besides, if last summer was any indication, his friends are going to be hanging all over this place and he'll want to hang with them. Also, I bought a new high pressure nozzle for the garden hose, and I'm looking forward to hosing him and Stephanie down.
But, there was more. He looked as if he thought he was treading into none-of-my-business territory, but planned on going ahead anyway.
We know you used to say we had to be sixteen to date and then you lowered it to fourteen for me. Rachel and I were talking, and it won't bother us if you lower it for Kevin.
While that's big of them, I don't think they see the bigger picture (and I don't expect them to.)
Kevin and Elizabeth are twelve years old. Just twelve. They have no business dating in the traditional sense. Cutting them loose in a theater for a movie, to wander around the mall, whatever they think a date consists of, is a bad idea. Not because they're untrustworthy, but because they are both too young to defend against things that other people are far to willing to inflict on them. Kevin can theoretically defend himself, yes; he's strong, fast, knows how to fight, and knows what hurts. But even for a twelve year old, he's small. He's no match for someone my size bent on harm. To have to protect himself and Elizabeth? It's not a practical expectation.
Those two are also on the very beginnings of puberty and all the depths of stupid that brings. No, I don't trust them with their impulses. I don't expect them to have the capability to connect points of logic that take them from this would be fun to this could ruin our lives.
Char reminded Alex, gently, that Kevin's biological mother had him at age thirteen; she got pregnant when she was twelve.
Your little brother is twelve.
No, we won't be making any concessions for him because the girl he loves--and I have no doubt about that--happens to be his best friend.
I see where Alex is coming from. He's thrilled that Kevin is openly affectionate and has proclaimed his devotion to a girl. Somewhere deep inside him is a genuine fear that the little brother he cares so much about is gay, and he's hoping that this is proof that Kevin is straight, even if he is a bit affectatious.
Kevin's overt declarations that Elizabeth is his girlfriend mean, in the long run, very little. While intellectually Alex knows this, he wants an easier path for Kevin to have ahead of him.
So do I.
Wanting that for him, however--the easier life, not hoping that he's straight--is very different than opening him up to things he's not ready for.
We're more than willing to take him and Elizabeth to movies, to bowl, to play miniature golf or whatever else it is they want to do--the same way we did for Alex when he was hanging around with Evan, before girls became It. The same way we did with Rachel and her friends. But we can't encourage anything more because it wouldn't be the best thing for either of them.
I think Alex gets that.
Still, we were touched that he's mature enough to realize that there is no one-size-fits-all parenting and doesn't mind that his little brother might get to do what he did not. We love that he looks out for his brother and sister.
It occurred to him as he sat there and watched Char stretch that while Rachel is technically allowed to date, every single time she's gone out, he's been there. Cheese was not allowed to go out without a chaperon, and New Guy Rob has really only been hanging around the house. He hasn't asked Rachel out on an actual date.
And when he does?
Alex is 90% sure he'll be there. Not because we won't allow her out alone now, but because deep down, Rachel isn't emotionally ready to be alone with a boy and she'll ask Alex to tag along.
And without any fuss, he'll do it.
I think Char was enveloped in the motherly warmth that comes with seeing your son take another step forward, but then Alex stood up and said Just so you know, I always empty my trash can. That shit flushes, you know?
I laughed until I realized she was embarrassed enough that no one was getting lucky last night.