Mixed Company and Mixed Messages

12 Nov

I’m a mom who will talk about anything, ask anything, put kids on the spot when their language is offensive and question their over-confident, self-perceived knowledge. For example, if I hear Ben and his friends listening to a song with lyrics about sex, I am known to turn off the music and ask them what they think staying up all night to get lucky actually means. Or when they want to go to an R-Rated movie, I might have them show me the review so I can ask them what frontal nudity is and why they want to see it. I kind of like watching them squirm a little – and I don’t mind them knowing that I’m monitoring things, albeit with some humor.

Ben’s friends all accept me for my bluntness and we have some very funny, and often enlightening, conversations. (I taught Health Ed/Sex Ed early in my teaching career and now, just like back then, I can assure you that the vast majority of kids know far, far less than they think they do.) I really wish all of us parents would be a little more inclined to talk openly about the things our kids don’t want to talk about, not be afraid to monitor our children’s cyberspace stuff and be more open about our own experiences as teenagers – it might bring about a few arguments, but it also brings delicate issues to the forefront and lets our kids know we’re part of their awkward equation.




The other day, Gary and I were driving Ben and two of his friends to basketball conditioning… All of a sudden, Gary was practically kissing the car in front of us and I yelled at  politely asked him to slow down and remember that there are soon-to-be-drivers in the back seat.


Gary replied, “It’s not my fault that car just pulled out in front of me.”


Ben jumped right on Gary’s answer: “He pulled out? He pulled out? You should never pull out!” (Insert motherly eye-roll.)


The boys laughed like the obnoxious 14 year olds they are. Never letting an opportunity or teachable moment to go by, I turned around and asked, “Ben – can you please explain to all of us exactly what ‘pulling out’ means as you understand it?”


The boys, again, snorted and cackled like the obnoxious 14 year olds they are. And, as I recall, they repeated the ‘pull out’ bit a few times and guffawed some more. Gary, who maybe should be used to my straight-talking ways, seemed a little uncomfortable with where this was going.


But just then, my husband quieted the boys down and told the captivating story of when he was in college and attended a demonstration in D.C. where the crowd was yelling for Richard Nixon to pull our troops out of Viet Nam (yes, we’re old). The chant from thousands on the National Mall was: “Pull Out, like your father should have done.”


More really loud obnoxious laughter – charming story, right? Thanks, Gar…


Then I (seriously) explained to them that I totally understand that boys will be boys and they can hoot and holler all they want when they’re alone, but that this kind of talk just wasn’t appropriate in mixed company.


Dead Silence and clear discomfort. After a few seconds of looking at each other in puzzlement, Ben started repeating “’Mixed company?” (Insert teenage eye-roll.) “God, mom, why would you even say something like that?”


I looked back and all three boys were still uncomfortable… I said “Yes, Ben, mixed company – men and women. I’m your mom, I’m a girl and you are all males and that makes us mixed company.”


Their silence was broken with even louder hysterics.


You see, the two friends of Ben’s that we were driving to practice happened to be black – all of the boys apparently thought I was talking about mixed company as in RACE!!


Now I joined in the laughter….


We made it to school, the boys got out of the car and as we were driving away, one of Ben’s friends shouted “There’s a lot of traffic – be careful when you’re pulling out, Mr. Cooper!”


Ah….14 year olds….what a ride…

2 Responses to “Mixed Company and Mixed Messages”

  1. Mary Kay Gavitt November 14, 2014 at 7:48 pm #

    Funny Stuff TCC!!! Experiencing the same conversations with my grandsons, what a teenage ride! Why did my mother live??

  2. Mary Kay Gavitt November 14, 2014 at 7:49 pm #

    Oops! Why did my mother let me live!!!!!

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