So I just looked at Wolfie until he said, "What? What are you looking at?" How could I explain what I was looking at? I was looking at sixteen years of life, his remarkable growth, my frustrating inadequacies, and the fact that in the beginning it had been just the two of us and now here we were, the two of us brought together yet again by the miracle of life. I could have, and probably should have, just been forthright and said that from the little intelligence I had been able to gather, I knew that he and Liv were still as chaste as the Jonas Brothers, and I wanted to keep it that way, at least for a while. But if things were to change, here's what I wanted him to know. Here's what I had learned about men and women, sex and responsibility. But there wasn't a chance in hell of that coming out of my mouth.
I also thought about asking if he would take a vow of chastity and I would take a vow of silence and the two of us would meet back here in a few years. But that didn't happen either. Instead, I blurted out that I was looking forward to being a grandmother someday. But he was way too young to start giving me grandchildren.
Wolfie responded exactly as I would have if I had been sixteen and sitting cross from me after that ridiculous statement. He stared at me with a look of startled bewilderment. I shrugged. I thought it was a nice try—the best I could do.
"Do you feel better now?" he asked.
"I don't know," I said.
"Mom, let me just talk to Dad about it," he said. "How about that?"
Relieved, I walked out of the room. About two minutes later, I was kicked in the butt by reality. I couldn't believe what I had agreed to. Had I lost my mind? God only knew what kind of information Wolfie might get from his dad. Getting your sex talk from Eddie Van Halen wasn't recommended in any of the parenting books I read.
A few days later, Liv flew back home, Wolfie went back on the road, and I reached my goal of losing 40 pounds. I celebrated the milestone at the kitchen table in my sweats, asking myself what now? Maintenance? Ha! Instead of throwing myself a party for hitting my goal, as I had always expected to do, I went for a hike with Tom up and down Pinnacle Peak, a rugged mountain outside of Phoenix.
As we huffed and puffed, I asked Tom if his parents had ever talked to him about sex. They hadn't, he said. He had learned about the facts of life from friends on the playground. I had discovered that information the same way, separating fact from fiction as I went along. Did anyone get the formal, sit-down sex talk? Or was that just a chapter in the parenting books that everyone skipped?
"I'd like to think that I progressed beyond my parents," I said.
"Well, I have always spoken pretty openly about sex to my girls," Tom said. "They even told me when they got their periods."
"Aren't you evolved," I said.
"I just recently told your mother that I've seen your penis," I said.
"What?" he said. "What'd she say?"
" 'Oh, honey. I've seen it too. It's no big thing!' " I said, laughing.
By the time we returned home, I had put all joking aside and decided to speak to my son again and make sure we had the kind of talk that I knew in my heart was right. I wanted to make sure he was prepared, responsible and sensitive -- and informed -- if only for my own peace of mind or just to prove that I could do better than my parents. I knew that I would beat myself up if I didn't do it.