The End of the Innocence

Anyone remember that late ’80s song, “The End of the Innocence,” by Don Henley? I don’t even like that song and, to be honest, I’m not even a big Don Henley fan (except for “The Boys of Summer”), but the chorus of that song has been stuck in my head for the past few weeks because it’s reflective of my world right now. You see, we are entering a whole new stage of life with both my boys — puberty for my youngest and dating for my oldest.

My 5th grader, who is a little more than a month shy of turning 11, has been learning about the body systems in school and is currently studying the reproductive unit. Luckily, his cool, 32-year-old health/PE teacher keeps it pretty basic and PG-rated. No Miracle of Life videos or graphic textbooks, but he does teach hand signals to help with the vocabulary. My personal favorites are the forceful fist punch up in the air to represent ejaculation and a military salute for semen. Needless to say, dinner conversations at the Tarr house have been rather lively these past few weeks, filled with scrotum stories and unbridled laughter from my pint-sized penis-talker.

Thanks to Mr. D and 5th grade health class, I’ll never be able to look at this Halloween photo the same way again!

This isn’t my first journey through puberty with boys and, generally speaking, it takes a lot to shock me. But I have to admit, it’s a little unsettling to hear my 10-year-old discuss nocturnal dreams when he still sleeps with a stuffed animal and wants to be tucked in each night. Talk about a dichotomy! Thankfully for me and my music selection, he’s still pretty naive and sexual innuendo mostly goes over his head. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for my oldest … Cue the clean version of my playlist.

Speaking of my oldest, my 13-year-old 8th grader is officially a man-child. At 5’8″ and over 140 pounds, he has long surpassed me in both height and weight. Add an additional two inches for his “winter hair” (a.k.a., the faux ‘fro) and he’s almost as tall as my husband. But it’s not only his size that amazes me. Like many typical moody, hairy, smelly teenage boys, he’s now girl crazy. While he’s still fully absorbed with his buddies and playing lacrosse, football and basketball, he’s now equally obsessed with texting and FaceTiming his new girlfriend. Yes, you read that correctly. My first-born baby has his first-ever girlfriend. I don’t like to think about it, but those nocturnal dreams my younger one is learning about may be more of a reality for my older one. [Shutter] All I have to say is, thank goodness he does his own laundry so I don’t have to find out.

My man-child even has lip fuzz … or is that dirt?

The teen dating scene is new to me (and him) so I’m sure there will be many more posts about it in the coming weeks. I know this is just the beginning and right now it’s all still very innocent. They are still very innocent. Thankfully. But my boys are growing up and experiencing things earlier than I remember. On the school bus alone they are exposed to everything from elementary school kids dropping the F-bomb and telling racial jokes to middle schoolers talking about blow jobs and sexting. For real! I can’t home school them (none of us would survive that catastrophe) or keep them in a bubble, so all I can do is talk to them (repeatedly and incessantly) to ensure that my polite, honest and respectful boys mature into polite, honest and respectful men.

In a few months, my boys will start middle school and high school, respectively. Life will get even more complicated, I’m sure, so for now I’m going to relish the hand gestures and giggles … and even the constant texting.

– LJDT

It’s Lent … Proceed with Caution

Today was the first day of Lent, and like a good Catholic, I got my Jesus on. I went to mass (the “lunchtime express” was a mere 20 minutes!), got my ashes (which, sadly, drew attention to my forehead wrinkles) and successfully made it through day #1 without breaking my 2017 Lenten promises … at least as of 10PM, as I was writing this post.

And I though the “Lunchtime Express” service at my church was great … Ivanhoe Church in Ohio offered drive-thru ashes!

I usually give up chocolate or cursing for Lent and fail miserably by day #3 . Last year, I switched it up and gave up negativity with an “at least” clause. But this year, I really need to get my shit together, so it’s back to tangible sacrifices. This year, I’m going big. This year, I’m going all in … which means I will either fail miserably by day #3 again and feel guilty about it for the following 43 days, or I will be a hot mess for the next 46 days. Either way, you’ve been warned.

So what exactly am I giving up that’s going to be so bad? Basically, food and life. For the next 46 days, I am giving up social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) and following the Whole30 eating program, which requires me to give up nearly every food group except for meat, fish, vegetables, nuts and seeds. As an added punishment sacrifice, I’m giving up homemade almond butter (my weakness) and my favorite sort-of healthy, go-to sweet fixes of dark chocolate covered almonds, dates, figs and dried apples. This may not sound like much of an indulgence to you, but it is for me. As I said, the next 46 days won’t be pretty, and for the record, I’m blaming Jesus.

Two birds, one stone?

Lent is a time of sacrifice and reflection, but it’s also a time for self-improvement. Because I’ve been lax on my clean eating habits lately, I’m hoping the Whole30/46 gets me back on track. I’ve even enlisted the help of my bestie to keep me honest. She’s giving up sugar (read: all sweets) for the entire month of March and texting me daily for support. She’s not exactly getting her Jesus on (she is Jewish, after all), but she is giving up Cadbury Eggs, which is a huge sacrifice for this girl … That’s love, people!

Love is … giving up chocolate for Lent for your best friend, even though you’re Jewish (photo: April, 2016).

I’ve also been lax on my writing, wasting too much time each day on Facebook and Twitter, so I’m hoping my social media sabbatical will help me procrastinate less and become more productive again. For the next 46 days, don’t be offended if I don’t wish you a happy birthday on Facebook, like your photo on Instagram or R.S.V.P. to your Stella & Dot/Pampered Chef/LuLaRoe party … It’s Jesus’ fault. [By the way, my blog posts are automatically uploaded to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, so I’m not cheating.]

I should probably also mention that I anticipate cursing and yelling even more than usual during the next 46 days, due to my expected hangry and isolated state. Again, you can thank Jesus. But to counteract my anticipated crankiness, I plan to engage in one act of kindness every day throughout Lent, adding on to my Facebook birthday promise to spread the love as many times as I received birthday wishes. If I don’t skip any days, I think that means I’ll be paying it forward through the end of the summer … and isn’t that what Lent is really about?

– LJDT