It's been a week of acceptance. I need to accept that winter is coming and that I should start wearing socks. I need to accept that the majority of voters in Wisconsin and I don't agree on who should be representing us in the U.S. Senate. And I really need to accept the fact that my children are growing up. I see glimpses of this happening every day from an unprompted thank-you to the carpool driver, to the desire for more privacy. But nothing really prepared me for the emotional slam of current and impending teen-hood than having my two boys attend their first girl-boy parties on the same day two weekends ago.
My older son is 13, and probably has a smattering of Bar/Bat Mitzvahs and school dances in his recent past that could, in a court of law, technically count as his first boy-girl affairs. But somehow this invite to an inter-gender party at someone's house felt really different, much more personal. Just a few weeks ago my son told me he didn't see the point in having a girlfriend in middle school. The fact that he might be introduced to the "point" in a neighbor's basement came on fast and furious. But he is a teen, and while I am quite bittersweet about the idea of him becoming a man, the timing for this social milestone seemed about right.
But it was the 5th-grader's party that took me much more by surprise. To be fair, it was an invitation to an end-of-season soccer celebration at a female teammate's house - innocent enough. This girl's family had actually hosted this same party for the past few seasons. But something had changed this year--you could smell it in the air from the moment you walked through the door. This year, the revelers -- boys initially at one table, girls at another -- were distinctly aware of the sexual tension-lite in the room. This was soon broken by some modern version of the proverbial hair in the inkwell--you know, some stupid boy trick, which is actually veiled (or in my son's case, not-so-veiled) flirting. And while my kid returned from the party and assured me he was "currently single" (I'd like to know when he was anything otherwise), things had definitely changed.
I can't really remember when I went to my first home-based girl-boy party. I think I was at least in high school, no? But my not-all-that-much younger sister assures me her 6th grade birthday was a co-ed affair back in 1980. Maybe kids aren't growing up faster than before; maybe I can't blame this all on reality TV. It's just something else I have to accept.
What age did you go to your first boy-girl party? What do you think is the appropriate age for your kids to go to one?