On my tenth birthday my parents got me a ten speed boys’ bike. It was a burgundy color with gold handlebars and a matching bike lock. I wore my hair in barrettes, read Judy Blume books that were vetted by my mom, hugged my John Travolta pillow at night and thought it was a big deal if I could stay up late on Saturday to watch the Love Boat. I had a crush on a boy named Rick who was my square dance partner in gym class.
My son turned ten the other day. He was just back home from sleep away camp. Perfect tan, long, blond bangs that he tossed like a pop idol; a six pack stomach, and a husky voice that had deepened in a months’ time. For his birthday his aunties bestowed on him a karaoke machine, flag football gear, a drone and a GoPro.
He has a girlfriend named Lauren*. She texts him Emoji kisses on his iPod.
I took him for a haircut and he instructed the stylist exactly how he wanted her to tailor his hair.
“What are we going to do with him,” I asked my husband later that day, “He’s ten!”
My husband smiled and recalled when he was in the 5th grade and how he had become handsome over the summer and grown two inches, “There were a whole group of girls who liked me. They gathered at the stairwell after school to fight over me. Dawn won.”
I imagined the Dawns, Joys, Rainbows and Moonbeams huddled around my ten year old husband trying to claim him.
“What did you and Dawn do,” I asked.
My husband just shrugged his shoulders, “Nothing.”
Then my husband recommended we arrange a play date for our son and this Lauren.
“Are you crazy? No way!”
“Why not? They’re just going to play.”
“Then what do we do when Lauren’s parents want to reciprocate and host a play date. How do I know her parents are going to make sure their play time is platonic?”
I imagined a dark, paneled basement, sump pump, and a plaid, stained sofa from Lauren’s dad’s old dorm room, a closet and a bottle to spin. Only there would be no need to spin any bottles. The two ten year-olds could just get right to making out and feel what an Emoji kiss really feels like.
“Then what happens when they are thirteen, fifteen, and sixteen. No thank you.”
My husband agreed that the play date was a bad idea, “We just have eight more years before college. We can do this,” he encouraged.
Today my son and I swam in the pool. He coached me on how to do back flops, cannon balls, 360 twists and dives. He laughed at me and my lack of athleticism, wrestled me in the shallow end and refused to let me hug him.
“You’re funny mom,” he said, wrapping his muscular, lean arm over my shoulder. I sneaked a kiss on the side of his head.
I wanted to tell my son to stop growing up so fast. I wanted to tell him that I should be the only woman in his life. Who does this Lauren person think she is? She’s pretty, blonde, plays tennis, soccer, sings, gets good grades, and has a Great Dane for a dog. Why couldn’t these two meet at 30, not 10.
Instead of a worried rant I said, “I love you,” squeezing his wet, tan hand and remembering this ten year old moment with him and wishing ten was still about ten speeds, Atari and three TV stations.
*Names have been changed to protect the innocent!