Joys of fatherhood and memories of teenhood meet with a bang

My sons are growing up, and I don’t like it one bit. Fathering was way more fun before the onset of the surlies.

Last fall I started teaching my son to drive, and in May he got his California driver’s license. Going through that made me verbalize myriad things that I hadn’t thought about consciously in years, all the subtle traffic signs and unofficial signals that driving involves. That was a good exercise, verbalization being my game.

Mostly it made me think about how not long ago I was potty-training him and now he has to move the seat back to drive my car. I love being a father, which is fortunate, since I am one. I dread their going away, and they can hardly wait.

A lot of guys never really accept or find their way as a father. I don’t mean to imply that there’s only one way to do it. I mean that a father ought to make up his mind about some things. Children, of course, force parents to decide issues and courses of action all the time, often before the parent in question has read that chapter.

The first time my oldest boy had a girl visit him, I didn’t know the protocol. Nice girls didn’t visit boys when I was his age, and I was way too square for the others. I remembered hearing about guys having to leave their door open in dormitories when a girl visited, and that seemed reasonable at first.

So making him leave his bedroom door open made sense until I thought about what that said, namely that I know you teenagers want more than anything else to have sex, and since I disapprove of sexual behavior at your station in life and I don’t expect you to have sex with the door open so anybody passing by could see you going at it, I’ll have you leave your door open and thus thwart your wild-eyed plans to swap body fluids.

The main problem is that I don’t disapprove of sex. Quite the contrary. When I was my son’s age, nothing would have made me happier than real sex, or at least that’s what I thought at first. Later on I learned that I’d been right all along. Very satisfying.

Privacy was in short supply back in the day. Nobody’s parents would dream of leaving a bunch of adolescent boys and girls alone, and the smaller the group, the less privacy. A lone couple was likely to have to sit in the living room on the plastic sofa.

When I’d run through my options with my son, I realized the girls had already disappeared into his bedroom, the door to which was thoroughly and completely closed. They could be doing anything in there, acts about which I wanted no details or direct knowledge.

So far I have one house rule when girls come over to visit my sons: No hollering.