Wednesday, March 07, 2007


When I was growing up, and was finally invited to girl-boy parties, I can remember sneaking a bottle into whatever room we were all hidden away in and playing Spin-the-Bottle. It was an advanced version of Truth or Dare. Truth or Dare was what you cut your teeth on, so to speak. You could play with a whole group of girls and spend the entire evening doing nothing more than telling make up stories about who you have kissed, who you would like to kiss and why. Only a few brave girls would choose dare.

I think it wasn’t simply being brave but an escape from having to pretend you liked a boy. I think all the girls who were brave enough for dares were really young lesbians yet to come out. I was certain there wasn’t a boy I liked. The girl sitting next to me, sure. Boys? Nope. Get caught feeling that way? Never.

Spin-the-Bottle led to a new level of panic. It meant kissing the person on the other end. For me? I would pray it was a girl.

And then I was horrified I was hoping so much it was a girl and I would get caught actually enjoying kissing a girl.

Needless to say, girl boy parties as a young lesbian were… stressful.

Both games, however, were well hidden from any adults that might be supervising the event. At the time, basement rooms redone into rec rooms were all the rage. The minute the door at the top of the stairs opened, everyone quickly pretended not to be in a close circle hovering over a bottle, which would be kicked under some piece of furniture.

New generation, new rules. I’ve written before how we have tried to be far more open with our kids about sexuality, bodies, never afraid to answer a question- although the answer may come out in a slightly choked way at times.

No one talked to me about what to do if your penis gets hard in the middle of class. I’m working from scratch, here.

My son Ben came up to me this morning and said, Mom, my life is great.

He said it with such sincerity and peace, I was blown away.

I’m so glad, honey. That’s great.

And he came over and gave me a big hug. Sweet boy, I think, and kiss him on top of his head because for another inch or two, I still can. I turned to get some coffee.

Mom? For my birthday?


Can we play spin the bottle?

Coffee spills all over the counter.


You know, spin the bottle. It’s when you take a bottle…

Ben, I know what spin the bottle is. It’s not a new game. I believe even your grandmother played it.

His face scrunched. Bad image, I realize.

No, honey, you can’t play spin the bottle.

But I want six girls and six boys to come to my party. I’ll be twelve so I can invite twelve people…

Yes. You can invite whoever you want.

I told my friend Margaret, aka Martha Stewart of Parenting, who replied, “How about Two Minutes in the Closet? I think your boy is a little ahead of himself.”

Ooo. I forgot that game. I think I may have blacked out emotionally during those encounters. Thanks, Marg. I’m sure to have nightmares tonight.

I think my boy is a little ahead of himself. But for a moment today, with his face so serene and sure, maybe a little ahead is where he feels more comfortable. Maybe the safe re-introduction of girls in his social circles- because everyone is inviting girls- will be a blessing for him.

And he knows it. On some level.

But with all our openness and freedom we are encouraging? I’m not letting him play Spin-the Bottle.

It too far ahead of me.


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