The 40 Year-Old Virgin

“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But when I became a man I put away childish things.” – I Corinthians 13:11.

My son, Clyde, is going to turn nine this summer, and while this doesn’t necessarily mean that it is time for him to “put away childish things,” it does mean that he should probably start giving some serious thought to reining in some of his more overtly “childish” actions. In other words, it means that it’s probably time for him to stop standing naked in front of the TV when his sister is trying to watch “Doctor Who.”

It also might be time for him to stop having long conversations with people when they are on the toilet. And time to stop refusing to flush after he has been on the toilet himself—especially on the grounds that his “product” is just too impressively impressive to flush. (“But look: it’s like a bunch of little people down there. It’s a crowd! A poo-poo crowd!”) I guess that what it really comes down to is that, while it might not quite be time for him to “put away childish things,” it may very well be time for him to stop acting so damn creepy.

The problem is that when he was younger these things didn’t seem all that creepy—at one time they were actually kind of cute. (Disclaimer: to me, they will always be kind of cute. But, then again, I am his mother.) Still, motherly prejudices aside, I realize that what may seem cute in a little boy can easily become creepy in a grown man. And if not exactly creepy, then certainly 40-year-old virgin material. The thing is: how do I convince Clyde of that?

I’ve tried telling him straight out, “Dude, chicks don’t dig it when you talk about your poo-poo,” but this approach doesn’t seem to work. For one thing, he knows very well that “chicks don’t dig it;” his very own test subject—his thirteen-year-old sister, Clementine—lives under the same roof as him. And if that, by some chance, wasn’t enough to tell him exactly what “chicks” do and don’t dig, then her habit of screaming “Get away from me, you perv!” at the slightest provocation would clue him in for sure. (Actually, she shouts it at such a volume that I’m pretty sure everybody in the neighborhood now knows what “chicks” do and don’t dig.)

In fact, that’s probably why he still does it. And while part of me appreciates that there s a certain amount of satisfaction involved in fine-tuning your chick repellant skills to the point where just a mischievous look can send your sister bolting off of the couch and into her room, another part of me is not so sure that this is really a skill you want to bring with you into adolescence.

And so, as much as I’ve enjoyed the show (and who doesn’t appreciate a good game of “Annoy the Older Sister”?) I feel like the time is fast approaching when I may need to think about maybe putting a stop to all of it. Which is why, lately, I’ve been trying to get him to move forward just a wee little bit.

This means that as of now I remind him to flush every time he leaves the bathroom. And it means that I also remind him not to try and engage people in conversations when they are in the bathroom. But most of all it means that I am now constantly reminding him that it is imperative that he “put away his childish things” around his sister. Especially when “Doctor Who” is on.

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