Soooooo….rather than run this nightmare over again and again in my head, I’m sharing it with y’all.
I’ve shared other moments of mom trauma and why should I stop now? My partner, God love her, said about month ago, that it was time to I have a chat with Zion around the realities of puberty: body changes, sex, etc. While I agreed that it made sense, I was in no rush to navigate yet another awkward ass conversation with a middle schooler. I had planned to have the chat during a ride home but he was on an anime rant and I just let it go.
But this morning was a clear indicator that little man has transitioned into another developmental phase; one I am wholly unfamiliar with. I had no brothers or male cousins I was close to. I recognize I’m imposing gender bias on this shit, but it is what it is. The awkward conversations of my youth involved tampons versus maxi-pads . So although I am a lover of words and deeply committed to disrupt the gender binary that is traditional parenting, I withered like an old raisin thinking about what I need to do. I mean, l shudder at the conversations my mom had with me about feminine hygiene. Hell, I hated even watching sex scenes on TV with her.
Well, I didn’t have to wonder long because God remains all knowing and painfully witty. In my typical morning air of annoyance, I ascended the stairs ready to breathe fire. Zion is late yet again. I’ve forced him to take a shower yet again. And although I hear fumbles in the bathroom, I hear no water. Not a damn drop. So I’m going up to tell this fool to get the led out. As I bust into the bathroom, Zion is pantsless and turns around in terror. Like most adolescents, Zion demands privacy when it comes to his person.Whatever, dude. I mean, I wiped your butt. Repeatedly. Anyway, back to my trauma. As he swings around to get tot he door and close me out, I see it: His junk. My son’s junk! It’s not a ding a ling or a wee wee anymore. It’s like a real penis…a dick, even. Shit!
I worked to play it off…like saying,
“Oh my bad dude. Just telling you to hurry up.”
“Uhhh, I’ll just get started on your lunch.”
And as I assembled his delicious turkey wrap (minus tomato), my brain begins to sweat as the “ill equipped parent” alarm rings in my head. I got major Googling to do! The nerd in me immediately wants to get to researching culturally appropriate strategies for talking about puberty, the list of stuff that goes down in boys’ bodies as they develop, and indicators of emotionally healthy black boys. I was spinning, y’all.
Then Zion comes down, seemingly unbothered, making his way over to his favorite shoes, and smelling much better than before (thank you Dove for Men!). I frantically get my favorite coffee going to better help my neurotransmitters not only process the young man missile burned into my brain, but hopefully come to settle the hell down and realize he’s ok, and I’m ok despite dragging myself out of another bowl of mom trauma.
My googling delivered some decent results. I appreciated the Mocha Dad is working through the struggle too. Sadly though, when I just Googled “black boys puberty,” all I saw was a list of articles on how Black boys are entering puberty earlier than White ones, and the negative implications (obesity, even higher suicide rates!). Um, gee fucking thanks. SO not helpful. Not to mention it is yet another way the media perpetuates negative difference,dehumanization, and sexualization of Black boys and men. This one was particularly tough:
“It may be largely genetic, as it is well known that different races have different timing in puberty, other factors being equal. But the variation also may be influenced by environmental factors,” Herman-Giddens said. “One thing that concerns me about our overall findings is the expanding gap between the onset of physical development in boys and the maturity of the brain.” –Dr. Marcia Herman-Giddens, lead investigator at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Gillings School of Global Public Health
While I recognize there is some empirical data backing up the message, the internet is reckless as hell in not caring that these messages are linked to already prevalent fear and preconceptions of my son
aka they mature faster aka they want sex earlier aka they are a threat aka they must be monitored aka lock them up aka shoot to kill
DO BETTER MEDIA.
So what’s a clueless chick like me to do? Day drink? Well, of course. Second guess every move I make? Done! But neither actually helps me talk to my son. Just as I’m about to binge watch 90’s Black family sitcoms for guidance, here comes Brown Mamas for the win!
Y’all, I got a book recommendation, some empathy and most of all some redemption in the fight against mom trauma. Essential lessons:
He’ll continue to stink
I’ll continue to be in his ass about it
His junk grew; and he’s gonna wanna touch it
In all of his awkwardness and mood swings, he is looking for 2 fundamental things: place and purpose
And the angels weeped. My butt cheeks released. I knew what I needed to do:
I will keep loving my son. I will keep holding him accountable. I will hold him close, show him affection, and teach him to be affectionate. I will celebrate his assets and push him to develop them (even when I don’t understand them…anime, anyone?). I will make sure I don’t own all of this, making sure he engages with his dad and granddad. Whether I like it or not, they can teach him stuff I just can’t. And lastly, I will keep checking his sheets to have the masturbation talk when necessary. This shit never ends, y’all.
Have you experienced mom trauma? What happened and more importantly, what did you do?