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Jonathan and I have definitely developed our own form of communication over the years.

When he was in elementary school and middle school, I knew better than to believe a single word issued from his lips. Although he fancied himself a fantastical story-teller, he was really an abysmal liar. Getting him to share a single piece of relevant (and truthful) information about his day required an act of Congress and the promise of a hot-cooked meal.

In high school, I heard more about his friends that I would have initially cared to hear. However, before making the major mistake of squelching his chosen form of communication, I recognized that in the stories of his friends, I was learning more about my son. As such, I allowed him to share with me the woes of the high school hormones, with all its ups and downs.

When it became clear that Jonathan would be moving out of our house and into the dorms at the Job Corps, I was sure our lines of communication would break down, and I’d be left wondering what was going on his life. I was a little bit saddened by this thought, but considered it to be the natural course of things and resolved myself to toughen up about it. He was on the verge of being a man, after all, and most grown men don’t share the little details of their lives with their mother.

Oh, if only that were true...

Within the past eight days I have had conversations with my son that have left me reeling and weary. While I’m glad he still chooses to confide in me, I’m a little stunned that he’s not developed a filter on what could be considered appropriate to share, and what might not be.

Unless, of course, he has developed this filter and these are the items that made the cut. Good God, let me not dwell there long! Moving on...  

Just over a week ago (as a preface of things to come, I suppose) Jonathan led me into a conversation about how he and some of his dorm mates were talking about hickies; who’d had the worst hickies; the oddest places they’d ever received hickies; and how many hickies they each might have given out. When I mildly responded something to the effect of hickies seeming to be par for the course when you‘re an eighteen year old man, Jonathan casually announced:

“Yeah, I pretty much have hickies all the time now.”

To which I replied (for lack of anything better in the midst of my stunned wonder at why I needed to know that little piece of information): “Thanks for letting me know that, Jonathan. Now, when I see you at Christmas I won’t worry that they’ve been using leeches on you up there.”

And his snappy comeback? “Why would they use leeches on us?”

When I relayed the conversation to Scott later, all he could offer was: “I just hope he’s using condoms.”

I swear.  How my husband ever made it to fifty years old thinking that a condom is going to prevent a hickey, I’ll never know!

So, a few days later, Jonathan called again. Scott answered the phone this time (I was in the other room) and I heard him say, “Who’s calling? Oh hey, bud. I barely recognized you. Hold on a sec,” as he walked toward me with the phone. As I put it to my ear, I heard:

“Mom! Gueth what! I got my tongue pierthed!”

I’m sure you’ve heard of a “swoon” from the days of old movies and overwhelmed damsels. I’d heard of them, too. I’d never quite experienced one though, before that moment. As the world swam a bit out of focus I closed my eyes, not caring to see where I fell. Before I could tumble and miss the rest of the conversation, however, Jonathan continued:

“It doethn’t hurt a bit! Ith kinda numb, really. But it lookth really cool!”

“Does the Job Corps have any rules against tongue piercings, Jonathan?” I really had no idea what else to say!

“Um, I don’t think tho. But if I keep my mouth clothed, they’ll never know the differenth.”

“Yes, Jonathan. Keep your mouth closed. That sounds like a plan.”

Today, another call from Jonathan brought another volley of shocking news briefs. He had gone home with another Job Corps student for the weekend and was hanging out with that young man’s family. They were shooting firearms (“We‘re being supervised, Mom! They‘re civilian-issue, so it’s no big deal.“) and looking forward to food that wasn’t cooked in a cafeteria.

And, naturally, Jonathan had some news.

“Well, I took my tongue ring out. I decided that since the Army doesn’t know I have it, I should probably wait until I’m done with boot camp to actually get it.”

Can you say hallelujah?! “I think that was a smart decision, Jonathan. I’m very proud of you for thinking it through like that, however latently.”

“Yeah,” he agreed, “besides, it hurt when I tried to eat and you know I like my food.”

He also got a tattoo this weekend. Well, he had a tattoo completed, I should say. (When we took our trip to see him a few weeks ago, I discovered a partial tattoo on Jonathan's arm. At first I thought that someone had just written on him with a pen, but with much chagrin he revealed that a friend had started to give him a tattoo of his last name with a needle and a bottle of ink. However, Jonathan had not anticipated how badly such a thing would hurt, and only allowed the first two letters of his last name to be embedded under his skin. The result was a tattoo of the letters P and E. That's right: PE.) It turns out his friend's mom is a licensed tattoo artist, and she offered to complete the tattoo for him, professionally. And, since the Army does  know about the partial tattoo, Jonathan decided to take his chances and agreed to have it done.

Lastly, and hopefully the final piece of mother-son sharing I am to endure this calendar year, involves something Jonathan could only describe to me as “one of those machines that sends a shock into the muscle and tightens it up“. His friend’s father (based on the little information I have) suffered a spinal cord injury to some degree at some point in this life, and is in possession of a machine as so eloquently described by Jonathan.

Apparently, Jonathan and his buddies decided to jolt various parts of their bodies “just to see what it felt like“.  If you can imagine a deep-voiced giggle, you’ll be imagining the voice in which my eighteen year old described the various shocks that escalated from fingertips to nipples.

“And then, Mom, I figured this was my one chance to prove that I was tougher than all of them.”

“Because that was in question?”

“Well, because I wanted to show ‘em, ya know? So I decided to take all four of the electrode-thingies and hook ‘em up to my right pectoral at one time. I knew better than to do it to the left one, since it was so close to my heart, right?”

There came that swoon again...

“So anyway, man, Mom! That thing is powerful! When I had them all hooked up, I told him to do it, and he asked if I was sure and I said ‘Do it, man, before I chicken out’ and I swear to God I thought my pec’ was gonna jump right out of my skin, it was so flexed.”

“But did it hurt?” I asked through the gray that used to be my vision.

“I dunno. I was too freaked out while it was happening to really notice how painful it was until it was all over.”

Much like parenting, I must say.  

So, I guess I’m still to be glad that my son is sharing with me, regardless of the ‘what’ of it all. And I am. But now, just as a precaution, I’ve asked Scott for one of those electro-shock machines for Christmas, to be hooked up to my LEFT pectoral the next time Jonathan calls... Just in case!


Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Linni wrote Dec 14, 2008
    • well feather.. at least he feels he can be open and honest with you! lol however i know there was alot of TMI for you! i chuckled as i read this tonight..

      i used to use one of those machines he talked about.. its called a tens ( sp ) unit..i can only imagine thoser boys! lol

      how lucky you are to have him! cherrish these moments with him!

            Report  Reply

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Yana Berlin wrote Dec 14, 2008
    • Heather....I feel your pain...I really do.

      My children sometimes share with me a lot more than I really need to know, but I have to believe it’s a good thing estatic even if it’s sometimes makes us wonder and hard for us to swallow the information relayed to us.

      Jonathan from pictures looks like a big guy, but he still sounds like a baby that needs his mommy.  

      Let me know how that electroshock machine works for you, I might just get one for me.

      Hang in there another 30 years and we are home free happy

            Report  Reply

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Lisa Middlesworth wrote Dec 15, 2008
    • I have been thru the tongue piercing, tatoos, industrial piecing and even *ipple piercing with my children.
      This from a lady that has none of these things.
      Makes me wonder if they gave me the wrong children at the hospital!
      Hang in there Feather, both of my children are very mature and responsible kids. It’s a phase and when they are ready, they will let it go.

            Report  Reply

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Dennie05 wrote Dec 15, 2008
    • My kids know how we feel about tattoos and piercing.  We pulled the MONEY card on both of them.  We did this so we can get them past the age where they want them or maybe the “social novelty” stage is over. Both my kids want a college education and need our help financially.  I have raised them in the manner that “I say what I mean and mean what I say.”  They don’t doubt that.  If they want to get a tattoo or piercing after they are on their own....than so be it. But if they do now and still need my help, than the paycheck is over!  I know that sounds harsh, but so far it is working.  I also told my kids that I would NOT bail them out of jail (if they got there). Fear is a good thing sometimes!  I don’t have anything against tattoos on other people.  I just don’t want them to possibly regret them when they are 30.
      This is how we are getting thru teenage/young adult years. Not easy, may not be right, lots of trial and error and lots of mistakes.
      My daughter (the youngest) says...that’s not brother got to do this or that.   My comeback is....I made a mistake with your brother in this circumstance.  Children do not come with a manual.  What kind of parent would I be if I didn’t learn from my mistakes????  Makes them think...

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Vikki Hall wrote Dec 15, 2008
    • aaahhhh....... The Joys of Motherhood!!!!!

            Report  Reply

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Fxydiva wrote Dec 15, 2008
    • Feather, I loved this blog!!  I LOL’d thru the whole thing! My 18 yr old daughter shares quite a bit with me too.  I’m glad she does because it means that she knows she can talk to me about anything, and I’m glad I have always left that door of communication open.  In this day and time, it is very important that we listen to our children and remain focused on what they are saying and doing, because it can reveal alot about them.  I never had that with my mom because I always felt like I would be ridiculed for things I said or did, and funny, I still feel the same way today.  There is alot I still won’t tell my mom.  So it’s important we develop these relationships with our children early on.  My husband has one of those machines you mentioned!  I’ve tried it and it really doesn’t hurt, just tenses the muscle immensely!!  But then again, I’ve never used all the electrodes on one muscle!!  LOL!!

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Termite wrote Dec 15, 2008
    • Feather,
      I chuckled reading this post.  Consider yourself LUCKY that he talks to you and lets you know what is going on in his life.  At least you know he is‘nt hiding from you. happy

            Report  Reply

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Daphne wrote Dec 15, 2008
    • Great blog, Heather!  Jonathan sounds pretty typical in that he’s LOVING how he can shock you.  My daughters and son are the same way...they try to shock me but, i’m onto them!  I won’t let them think i’m feeling anything other than “informed“.

      Re the tongue piercing...i’ve told all three of my children that if they show up with a pierced tongue, i will take them down, put a knee on their chest and remove it.  My oldest just got her nose pierced.  While i’m not crazy about her doing it, she’s 18 and there’s not a lot i can do about it.  In the grand scheme of things, i consider the fact that she’s not doing drugs, she is gainfully employed, going to college and is generally a good kid.

      I’ve tried to impress on my children that it’s important to define yourself and who you want to be before getting tattoos and facial piercings.  Once they are educated and working and know who they are, who they want to be,and the image they chose to present, that is the time to make the decision about permanently altering their body. Jax came to us about the nose piercing before she did it and we told her that we were against it.  We had hoped that she would make the right decision (from our perspective) but, alas...she did not.

      Now, my 15-year-old daughter is picking at me about it.  There is no way i will consent to or finance facial piercings so she’s out of luck...for at least 2 1/2 more years.

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Mz. Queen wrote Dec 15, 2008
    • My daughter is that child, she's now married and 25. So that makes her my "girlfriend" now, and I love it sometimes we do simultaneously say, "*ugh,*  and TMI and then giggle like "girlfriends."

      [Link Removed]

      47ntiredorunnin, Your links have been removed, please consider upgrading to premium membership.

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Jacquie6363 wrote Dec 15, 2008
    • Oh Feather, what a wonderful story about Jonathan..

      My mom and I always had the type of relationship, where I can tell her anything.  As a child, I never held back, I just said what was on my mind.  To-date, we still have that, we talk, laugh, cry about any and everything that fits into those categories.  I trained my son to be open with me, though I have caught him in lying, but I guess that comes with the being a teenager. As far as tattoos are concern, I think they are beautiful on others, don’t like them for myself or my son.  The most in piercings for him, is that I did allow him to get his ears pierce, tongue, nose, lips etc were out of the question.  He is now almost 20 and I pray that since he would be making those decisions himself that they would continue to be out of the question.

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Feathermaye wrote Dec 15, 2008
    • I agree with all of you ladies that I'm very lucky that he shares anything with me at all. Based on our history together, I wouldn't really expect anything less than bizarre and shocking.

      Regarding tattoos and piercings... well, I have 2 tattoos (and I would have more if I hadn’t gotten sick with each of them) and actually prefer he have the finished product as opposed to the partial PE he was sporting. And I’m hoping he’s learned his lesson with the whole tongue piercing thing. He claims there is a picture of him with the needle through his tongue, so I bet you can guess how anxious I am to see that!!

      Linni, I cherish every text message and phone call, regardless of the news on the other end. I just happen to cherish certain ones more, lol.

      Yana, Another 30 years?? That’s all?? ohhhh

      Lisa, Jonathan and I have had extensive discussions about the industrial stuff, particularly the gauging of his ears. At last check-in he was against the practice, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed there!

      Dennie, If I had been funding him at all I would’ve yanked it back. But, when he’s living on someone else’s tab, what can ya do??

      Vikki, these days I’m thinking “The Ploys of Motherhood” sounds much better!

      Fxydiva, I’m glad you found the humor in it all. I love how we learn to listen, and that you’ve got one who thinks you‘re cool enough to share with, too.

      Termite, If there's stuff that he's not telling me, I'm doomed.

      Daph, I love love love the knee to the chest threat. But... have you seen Jonathan?? ohhhh

      47, I’m glad you came through parenting with a girlfriend on the other end. That’s so very cool!

      Jacquie, It sounds like my mom and I share the same sort of relationship as you and your mom. I guess with Jonathan it’s just so shocking because he’s so much more fearless than I ever was.

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Dennie05 wrote Dec 15, 2008
    • No easy answers...are there?  I can’t wait to be a grandparent!!!  (well...maybe just a few more years!)  People say that is the best!

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Jacquie6363 wrote Dec 15, 2008
    • Dennie, so I hear, I am waiting patiently also, not giving any ideas though, LOL

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