My son, the middle child, is already taller than me (at age 15), smarter than me (not too hard), and much more social than I was at his age - granted I grew up in a small town with not too many people to be social with. He's been dating the same girl for past 18 months.
I truly admire him, his maturity and all his accomplishments.
He recently made the cut for the Freshman basketball team. It was an intense week and a half try-out against kids who have spent most of their careers playing basketball in summer leagues, travel leagues and special camps run by coaches, which always help to garner favoritism.
My son decided this past summer he was going to try and make the team. On his own, he spent hours shooting hoops in our driveway trying to perfect his shots, and playing pick up games in the local park at night. He stuck to his training regimen, figured out how to correct his mistakes, and built self-confidence in himself.
There wasn't much advice I could give him. While I was athletic in high school, I didn't play basketball - wasn't well coordinated for that sport. I ran track, though, so the only thing I could encourage him to do was run Cross Country in the fall to condition himself for basketball. Which he did, and was able to put himself amongst the top Freshmen runners.
He got better and stronger on his own and because he wanted to. And it was this determination that finally got him on the squad. While he may not be a starter on the team, he's definitely a player.
I like to remind him of those things when I have some time alone with him. I think it kind of embarrasses him and I don't know how much longer I will have his attention, but I feel it's my duty to say it when I can.
So when I picked him up after a practice the other day, I noticed a lot of other high school girls around him, really cute girls (don't worry, I have no interest in them), girls from the other sport teams.
When he got in the car, I asked him if he knew who they were.
"Yeah, they're just friends," he said casually.
Now, as I said before, I wasn't that social in high school. Okay, I didn't date anyone in high school. So when I saw this attention from these appealing and attractive girls to my son, all I could think was - why isn't he trying to "pick them up"?
I know he has girlfriend. But he's been dating the same girl, as I said, for the past 18 months. While this fidelity is wonderful and commendable, high school only comes around once. Cute girls who actually talk to you come around rarely. Damnit, I would've killed for a mediocre girl to talk to me in high school. And don't deny it, those of you with children, we all try to live vicariously through these kids, whether it's sports, academics, or adorable, winsome girls.
I wanted to use this alone time to tell him about the need to experience as much as possible (within reason) while one is young enough to do it. The image of Alan Arkin's Grandpa character in Little Miss Sunshine kept coming to mind. Actually, it was his advice that I was thinking of: Listen to me, I got no reason to lie to you, don't make the same mistakes I made when I was young. Fuck a lotta women kid, not just one woman, a lotta women.
I tried to convey these sentiments to him - using other words. But once again he proved to me that he is the bigger person - in size and wisdom.
"Dad, I don't need to date other girls. I'm already with someone I really like."