“You should wear your black leather coat,” Todd, my 11-yr-old son says as we are about to go out on our ‘date’. I know why… or at least I am quite sure I know, but I ask ‘why’ anyway, just to hear him say it. “So that we match!” he answers with a huge grin. That’s when I know the date is going to be outstanding!
The date is nothing glamorous–just a 45 minute ‘chat’ at Tim Hortons over a much too sweet drink, even though I ask them to cut it back by half. Todd munches on a donut, something I refuse to punish myself with, as he chatters about school. I enjoy listening. He loves his chance at leadership in gym. He has a plan to motivate his group to win. I’m so proud of him. His grades are higher than they’ve ever been and he’s engaged in his studies and trying hard to do his best. I tell him again how proud I am of him.
I ask him about his friendships–who are his three best friends right now and what are they like, what does he like about them?
Todd, typically a quiet child, speaks with non-stop enthusiasm one-on-one. He shares what he and his buddies do, chuckling at their wit and proud of himself for his own. Suddenly his expression changes. His gaze shifts from mine and–is that shame or reserve–something shifts. “Sometimes they say things that are inappropriate….”
I can tell it isn’t the end of a thought, but the beginning and he doesn’t know how to move forward. “What kinds of things do they say?”
“They swear a lot.” Sparkly eyes are clouded and I know it’s deeper.
“Really bad words, like the eff word?” I ask. He nods and says he doesn’t like it. We talk about some of the words I say without thinking. “What do you think of the words like ‘freakin’ and ‘friggin’?” I ask.
He holds his hand out flat and motions back and forth, indicating he isn’t sure about it. It is then that I realize my 11-yr-old son has the same spotless language that his father has. “I’m trying not to use that language,” he says.
I tell him how I developed some very bad habits as an angry teenaged girl who didn’t believe in God and that sometimes I still struggle with it. I promise him that I will try not to use that language either and that I am very proud of his good choices. But I know there’s something bigger.
“Is that all?” I ask.
He squints his eyes, looks away. “Todd, you don’t need to be ashamed or afraid to say anything to me. You can tell me absolutely anything okay?” He nods. “Do they talk about sex and sexual things?” His eyes are now comfortably holding my gaze, but sad, as he nods. “And what do you do when that happens?”
“I walk away. I don’t like it so I walk away and find my other friends.” Todd continues to share with me about how he feels when he is confronted with perverse sexuality and how he has decided he will not be a part of it.
The next thing I know we are deep in conversation about why God created us as sexual beings, why it is good and why it is good to wait. I explain why I am so proud of him–even more proud than I am about his grades–because I know he will treat young women with honour and respect and will reflect the heart of our Father God, as their protector. I explain that not everyone will be protected with the truth and even some lovely young women in his life will have been hurt sexually.
The conversation is comfortable, even fun, and his eyes have their sparkle back. “So I should just keep doing what I’m doing?” he asks.
“Yes, Todd, keep doing what you’re doing. You are an amazing young man of integrity!!” With that he takes his final sip of sugar-laced Hot Smoothie, sets his mug on top of mine, wipes his face on the back of his hand and without a word stands up. A young man of few words has just taught me how to be a mother, all over again. There is not greater calling in life than this moment with my children!