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June 24, 2006

The Bad Boyfriend Talk

a guest blog by Ramona Long:

If life were an AA meeting, this is how I might introduce myself:

"My name is Ramona (Hi, Ramona!) and my son has a girlfriend."

Whaaa? Is this now the Oedipus blog?

Let me clarify: It's his first girlfriend, which means we had to Talk.

Actually, he got That Talk long ago.  My husband delivered it in the car, because a book we own about raising responsible boys suggested the best time to address a sensitive topic with an adolescent is while driving, so there is NO DIRECT EYE CONTACT. (Yes, a man wrote that book.) Now, however, with a living breathing female involved, new more topic-specific Talks are required.

Such as, The Responsible Behavior Talk, aka The Condom Talk.  Delivered, again, by Dad, in the car. But because I know who would suffer most if the unmentionable occurred, I delivered a follow-up to The Responsible Behavior Talk, with some very direct eye contact.  "Yo. Kid.  Make me a grandmother while I'm in my forties, and Mr. Willy gets the chop."

Then came the What To Give Her For Christmas Talk, and because I didn't think a fifteen-year-old girl would appreciate a brand new blender, I took over The Talks.

I'm not complaining.  I like Talks. I mean we're talking.  Well, me mostly, but sometimes the kid slips up and actual communication results. I stay brief, don't ask any more than four questions, and keep to a minimum the direct eye contact. I get to feel like a good parent, and he gets to roll his eyes with impunity. Upside for everyone!

Here's a sampling of Talks:

When his pals whine because he's always with Her--Don't Forget Your Friends Talk.

When he hogs the mirror before seeing her--Your Hair Just Grows That Way Talk.

When he wants Her to ride his bus home and they'll be alone in our 4-bedroom house for three hours--Do I Look Stupid To You? Talk.

I thought I was doing a cracking good job at the Talking thing. Then I read Marian Keyes' LUCY SULLIVAN IS GETTING MARRIED, and that nearly launched the first Emergency Talk.  Which would have been bad, because it was 11:30 at night.

I'd forgotten the Bad Boyfriend Talk.

Aka, the Gus Talk.  (I hope that's okay, Ms. Keyes!)

Gus is Lucy Sullivan's boyfriend. Gus is cute and funny. Gus is artistic, perceptive, smart, sexy, eccentric and engaging.  Gus could charm the pants off you. Gus charms the pants off Lucy, but not on the first date. Gus would, in fact, be The Perfect Boyfriend if he didn't possess a few wee flaws. Like, being a drunk. And unemployed. And charming the pants off girls who aren't Lucy. And not calling.  Or showing up.

Bad Boyfriends go by many names: Hamlet. Mr. Wickham. Charlie Sheen. Catcher Block.  This guy:

Go to fullsize image

(Feel free to insert your own nominees here.)

In my life, if Don or Carl or Steve or Randy had hand a Gus Talk, I--and my girlfriends, roommates, family and dog--might have been spared a whole lotta pain.

Would name of son join the list because Mommy had forgotten the Bad Boyfriend Talk?

My chagrin was profound.  Would I have to re-do my introduction?

"My name is Ramona (Hi, Ramona!) and I have raised a Gus."

I fretted all night, but even I can't do a Talk before the school bus arrives. His cell phone rang during breakfast, and I nearly poured scrambled eggs into his lap.  Was it Her? Did he promise to call last night but didn't? Was it some new chick he'd been calling on the sly? Was my baby becoming a jerk-wad?

Lucky for me (and his lap) he answered, "Hey, Sean, wassup?"

I had all day to work on this Talk.  I could save a generation of girls from heartache--or, more likely, one girl from being rakishly dumped--but if I ranted, he wouldn't listen. So I edited out, "In my day, girls didn't call boys..." I shaved "even cucumber slices didn't help..."  And I threw away, "my pride wouldn't allow..." And got the Gus Talk down to six words.

"Be a gentleman, and be honest."

Of course, I embellished.  "If you like someone else, tell her!" "If you won't show up, call her!" "Tell the truth!" "Remember you were raised right!"

He sat through it and nodded in all the right places--or maybe he was nodding off. But now I had new fears. Have I skipped other Talks? Are there big gaping holes of Talkdom I'm missing right now? Will my son have his own chapter in a book like this one: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1596910569/sr=8-1/qid=1150335582/ref=pd_bbs_1/102-5031474-9298537?%5Fencoding=UTF8

Is there a Talkers Anonymous?

Help me!  Help my son!

50 Boyfriends Worse Than Yours



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Ramona, on behalf of mothers of daughters everywhere, my thanks :)

Ramona - where is your son, and next time he's available, can you introduce him to my niece?

Also - I'm thinking it may not be too late to save some other men (and women too) perhaps the Talks in connection with some electoshock therapy. Kidding.

My son is 11 and we've had some of the Talks already - because girls are calling him. At this point, he could care less. How much longer will these golden days last?

I am going to print out this blog and put it on his wall when he starts to date.

Thanks for a great blog!!

Wonderful post! Totally NOT looking forward to those years!

IMO, I think girls can be just as nasty as boys, so I would probably add the "Beware of Gus-like Girls" (Gussies?) talk to my arsenol.

My son is 7 and my daughter is 9 and I currently have over 100 lectures that I have been practicing regarding all dating/sex topics.

Most of them start off with, "Go ask your father..." who has always been WAY TOO open about these subjects. Thank God we did not own a video camera when my kids were born.

Kerry and Kathy,

Thanks for the kind words.

About your niece, Kathy, I do have two sons, you know. However, having met Sarah Strohmeyer's daughter this week, well, I know I'M in love....

Yikes about the 11-year-olds calling! My boys were still, uh, a bit rough around the edges then. (translation: barn animals) Now that they have cell phones, however, it's tough to know who's calling, until the bill comes in. Then it becomes like detective work: This number went up this many minutes this month--does that mean love? Friendship? Or should Mom and Dad just get a life?

BTW, the Talks at my house are not limited to romance. I gave a good one last night, called I Know It's Your Summer Vacation But As Long As You Live Here You Still Have to Unload the Dishwasher Talk. Trust me, the Gus Talk was a lot more fun!


"Gussies"--he he, I really like that!

I think you are right, Juanita, about girls being as nasty as boys. Unfortunately, if I remember correctly from my youth during the Pleistocene Epoch, girls seem to more often aim that nastiness at one another, rather than at boys. Which is a shame, as we certainly bond together later in life. Right, sisters?

But that's another blog...

Hi Ramona!

I get the beautiful job of having those "talks" with my 15 year old son myself. I've been a single mom all of his life and I have found that my dating life, or lack there of, has spoken to him louder than anything I could ever say to him.

One big revelation that I learned as a middle school teacher, and this revelation was introduced to me by a female teacher;

At six Grade, the gals are interested in the guys, who are more interested in sports and entertainment.

Wanna know why 7th grade is so tough?
Because both guys and gals are interested in the same thing.

I hope that every boy my daughter (who's 17) dates has a mother like you.

And I have the dishwasher talk too! I get the "slave labor" complaint. Bet your life. I'm working all day, you're sitting home. End of story.

Hallie, I'm sure your son is learning volumes from your experiences. Despite the angst, fifteen is an interesting age for boys and their moms. As Laura pointed out, I get the "slave labor" comments, too, but I suspect they secretly enjoy being taller, stronger and, in their own minds, smarter than me! But not about everything: I have a theory that there should be one non-family topic that a parent and child should share. For us, it's music. Lucky for me, both boys like classic rock and punk, so the fact that I can name all the members of The Clash and can put up a decent defense about why The Cure is not really a Goth band gives me some credibility. At least, I hope so.

And Dave, your comment about 7th graders...I'm not really in favor of human experimentation, but if the government came up with some plan to freeze-dry kids in 6th grade and defrost them a la Austin Powers in time for high school, I'd be on board. Apologies to all middle-schoolers out there, but tweens are rough!

Ramona - have you considered writing a book?

I think "Mr. Willy Gets the Chop" has the ring of a best seller!

I get those slave labor comments too. I make it plain and simple for him and tell him that no woman should ever have to take care of him. She should choose to. He has his fair share of duties as well as his own laundry. I work full time and go to school.

Now, if anyone could explain to me the necessity of wearing or jeans below our butts....

Um, Kathy, didn't Lorena Bobbitt already write that book???

Thanks for the post. Our son is 12. And sometimes we talk TOO much. Not that that's bad, but I'm not always sure he remembers the REALLY IMPORTANT stuff, like this. I was raised with a code of behavior, and sometimes rules are good and less is more. Because some things ARE black and white. "Be a gentleman; and be honest." I really like that. He watches a lot of great old movies with me, and enjoys them. Featuring a lot of non-PC folks, like John Wayne and Humphrey Bogart and the Lone Ranger and Superman and Fred Astaire (OK he's PC) and, yes, Sean Connery (thank goodness for DVD boxed sets!). I think he gets the gentleman part. If he get the honest, I'll count myself a success as a dad, because much of the rest takes care of itself. I hope. Now, if I can just remember not to make a catch-phrase out of this and bore him to death...

My son is 15 and has a first girlfriend. She seems like a very nice girl. He has told the whole family at dinner that he won't take dating advice from me. Something about how everything I say is completely wrong, or, at least, wrongheaded.

Who would've thunk that?

Ross, if your son is willing to watch classic films--including Fred Astaire!--with you, then I think you've got the successful dad part down.

(BTW, where has Cinema Dave disappeared to? I'm thinking surely he has some cinematic suggestions to add!)

Josh, it was very nice to meet you on Wednesday. Did you wear your tiara on the drive home, as I did? About your son, ouch. Maybe he needs the It's Mathematically Impossible For Me To Be COMPLETELY Wrong ALL Of The Time Talk. No kidding. I've given that one.

I've been involved with some top secret hurricane prevention research Ramona, thanks for the concern. I'll look into the Austin Powers cryogentics solution.

I do agree with Hugo about Movie classics. I am amazed at how well some of John Wayne's movies translate to today's youth. There is a truth in the narrative of those movies that is lacking with most Summer movies.

It is funny that Hallie mentioned;
"Now, if anyone could explain to me the necessity of wearing or jeans below our butts...."
If been listening the the classic song by the group "War,"
and the song...I keep hearing is.....can you guess?..............................................
"Low Rider!"

Ramona - I guess you're right about the Bobbits.

I have a better idea - Parents of Teens Flashcards!

Each Flash Card will have a standard lecture topic: Slave Labor, Tell the Truth, Be A Gentleman, Don't dress like a tramp, the related: If it dresses like a duck and talks like a duck, that kind of thing.

It would not only be a good parenting tool, but great shorthand once the kid gets used to the topics. We could leave them in lunchboxes, wallets and jean pockets as reminders.

You can talk until you're blue in the face, but IMO the only important training a boy gets in how to treat women, is watching how his dad treats his mom.

....the lesson to learn from middle school and high school, bad boys rule...until they get their high school diploma!

Are ya saying, Ben, that I'm wasting my time with the Talks? I hope not. I feel I should point out that not all sons, and daughters, are fortunate enough to have both parents around as living examples.

BTW, my husband is a great guy. I dated a Gus or two, but I married a nice person. Which means I'm SMART.

I would say your talks are useful in that they let him know how he's _expected_ to behave. But his _actual_ behavior will most likely be based on whatever male role models he has available to him.

i red your post and I agree. My girlfriend gets drunk and hits me. but I realize thats becuase I don't respect her enough. I should be ok with the fact that she flirts with other guys. Its ok, she comes home to me at the end of the night. I am glad that you had that talk with your son. Before I read this I thought that it was maybe something that I was missing, and your right I am. I need to honor her. And yes we all have flaws, and I just want her to be happy, and after reading this, I see I am to blam for how she reacts. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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