When I fetched Damien from school yesterday, he said a girl in his grade had invited him to her birthday party, which is apparently a “ball” of some kind. He has to dress quite smart and he can take a friend. I lightheartedly say okay, he must just be sure to get an invitation of some kind so we can RSVP and get maps and so on. Can you tell I wasn’t too worried at this point yet? It didn’t even occur to me that he might actually want to take an actual girl with him to the party… Ok- I was driving at the time- my concentration was elsewhere!! So, he’s quiet a while and then he says that she’s quite pretty… I say nothing- but secretly I’m grinning- ‘coz he never tells me things like that! A little more silence, and then he says he thinks he might ask her if he can be her partner for the party because she doesn’t have a boyfriend. Ok. Noooow I start wondering if I can handle this. I stay quiet for a while. Then I tell him that since we’ve discussed sex- the ins and outs and implications thereof at length over the years- I don’t feel we have to go over “the birds and the bees” again… His relief is almost palpable… I had to stifle a giggle! But what I do remind him of is that- no matter what- he is to be a perfect gentleman. And under no circumstances whatsoever is he to touch her- he may ask her to dance and if he’s invited to he may hold her hand- absolutely nothing else. You see- to my mind, these days it’s no longer a case of being cautious of unplanned teenage pregnancy and all that- there’s sexual harassment, STDs, HIV, not to mention rumours and gossip- and those last two are the very least of the possible problems! Buuuut then again- my parental super power is neurotic paranoia- I can drive whole groups of people crazy with my own personal version of mommy madness… I have put my lycra super suit away until I’ve lost 20 kilos or so (‘coz I can’t turn invisible and I kept being mistaken for the Oros Man), but in my mind I’m always wearing it! I’m also basing my fears on my own personal experience… so I’d appreciate any ideas, experience, nostalgic references, and or legal methods to keep him home and safe from heartache and or STDs till he’s about thirty-ish. Hey- I wonder if her parents will let me chaperone!?!?! Ugh… So, who’s going to own up to taking my brakes- can’t I go in reverse for a while to the time when he thought girls were gross!? Looks like I’m going to have to start reading one of my new textbooks a lot sooner than I planned to (Preparing Yourself For Every Man’s Battle).