Sunday, December 04, 2005

The case of the barking seal

My 11-year-old son has just gotten into "IM'ing" the last couple of days. He and his good friend, Jacob, have spent hours IM'ing. That's fine, it's new, I'll let him go whole hog on it. But I warned him that at any time I would demand to see the conversation thread. He would never know when. I also explained to him to never, ever, ever write anything that you wouldn't want the classmate you're talking about to see or anything you wouldn't want me to see.

I told him the story about how once when Joycie was in middle school, someone had printed off a whole IM conversation, took it into school and caused Big Time trouble with it. Thankfully, Joycie wasn't involved in that (because she wasn't IM'ing at the time), but some of her friends were and the animosity it caused was pretty long-term. What a mess.

So Sam and Jacob are busily IM'ing each other, but they are also calling each other. I'm in the kitchen and I hear Sam talking to Jake about a girl. Sam has hooked up his friend, Sammiejo, his classmate, with Jake (who goes to another elementary school in our district). Jacob and Sammiejo met at Sam's Halloween party. Sammiejo thinks Jake is cute.

I hit the roof. I believe I said something along the lines of, "I told you no "going out" crap, you're just asking for a lot of trouble. Sammiejo is your friend and Jacob is your friend. Leave it at that. Do not get involved in any of that boyfriend/girlfriend shit. If I have to say it again, you're IM'ing days will be a distant memory." I didn't so much as say it, as shouted it. I used a loud voice, because, yes, indeed, I meant that all for Jacob's ears as well. It worked, too.

Earlier this year Sam was "going out" with Sammiejo, and she dumped him on the playground in front of a group of her girlfriends. Sam, of course, acted at school like it was no big deal, but he was quite hurt and offended. I told him then the rule was No More Going Out for the remainder of his 5th grade year, just stay out of that whole drama. We've talked about it a couple of times; I reminded him No Going Out. (Why in the hell they call it "going out" is beyond me... they don't go out, it's just a public declaration of a couple, really, and the couple will, occasionally, say a few words to each other. That's it. Whatever happened to "going steady"? They don't even use that phrase at the high school nowadays.)

This past Monday evening, after basketball practice, Sam came up to me and confessed that he had asked Jacy to "go out" with him that day, and that she said yes.

I asked Sam if, while he was asking Jacy out, he recalled the unbending rule of No Going Out. Yes, he had. When I asked him why, then, he went ahead and asked Jacy to go out, he replied, with infinite 11-year-old boy wisdom, but also with a very guilty look on his face, "because I wanted to." Tears were close at hand. I could tell he was remorseful, and the guilt was really eating at him. I chewed him out anyway, then made him draft a conversation and call Jacy on the phone, and, in front of me, explain that he wasn't to have asked her to go out and that he had to break up with her. He also had to apologize.

He and Jacy have been friends since 2nd grade. Close friends. Too close, from my viewpoint, as I don't really care all that much for her or her family. Her dad has been really rude a couple of times, and her mom waffles between snubbing me and being nice to me. Thank goodness for the rule.

The very next day at school, a few girls were trying to get Sam to go out with Jenny, another girl I don't like. Jacy wasn't mad at Sam at all. Sometimes those kids will go out in the morning, break up at lunch and be going out with someone else by afternoon recess.

So midafternoon yesterday, I conducted my first surprise IM'ing inspection. The boys had some conversation about why Sam can't Go Out. Jacob definitely can, but probably because his parents both work in the same office together and never get home before 7pm... I think they have no idea of Jake's going out activities. The boys also were talking about staying overnight. First, Jacob asked Sam over, and then he suggested that he stay overnight at Sam's.

I was actually very proud of my son's IM'ing actions. Jacob seemed to start to dis another boy, and Sam just changed the subject. I asked him about it, and he did it on purpose. Good decision.

So, I said, sure, Jacob could stay the night if he could get a ride over to our house. We live so far away from most of Sam's friends, that often, I have to not only go get the kid, but also take them home.

Jake got here about 6pm last night. The boys wanted to sleep in the basement, which is right under our bedroom. I had earlier agreed, but through the evening, while they were down there playing, I kept hearing this loud, sharp, hacking and barking sound. Turns out Jacob is coughing up a storm. He said he was sick about a week ago and that the cough just won't go away. Yeah, right, that cough means the kid is still sick. Shit. Sam's been fighting the sniffles for about 3 days, so I'm sure he'll get the barking cough thing that Jake is sharing all over our house. They didn't get to sleep in the basement. I told them there's no way I'm going to try & sleep overhead of that barking seal routine all night.

I'm sure the boys planned to hang out here all day, but I've already told them Jacob is heading for home at 10:30am. In 4 minutes. Yes.

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