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I just started in cataloging all the boys and men I’d ever dated. We were alone in the car with 90 minutes in front of us, just my teenage boy and myself, so I started in. I knew of no other way to impress upon him the concerns I had about his relationship with his current girlfriend. You don’t tell teenagers directly what you want because they in turn, in keeping with their job in life to separate from you after a childhood of deliberate bonding, reject it. So the next best thing is to open myself up and share my personal experiences.

Turns out my litany of boyfriends, and there were not that many really, seemed a little interesting. And I say that not because of anything my son said, instead it was because of what he didn’t say. He didn’t say a word. For over an hour he said nothing as I detailed the reasons why one guy was good and another not, from my perspective as as teen and young adult, back in the day. I explained about the one who dropped cigarette ash on my rug, the one who was a high school dropout but doted on me like I was a queen so I stayed with him for five years, the one who had tons of money and a Porsche but his friends didn’t like him, the one who couldn’t ever find time for me, and those that had only one thing on their minds. I told him the entire experience of meeting his father and how we developed our relationship and why I liked him better than the others even though at first it was not so clear. I told it all minus the sexy parts. And he remained silent. But I could tell he was listening, and he even had a few questions, particularly about his father and me. He said it was cool that Dad really liked me even though I wasn’t that sure at first. He liked that part. The tenacity of his father, in love. Hmmmm.

The point is I needed him to know that staying with a girl for years, because it is easier than breaking up, is not that great an idea, and why. I threw in some examples amidst the smokescreen.

A few months later he broke up with his girlfriend. I was surprised, that is, until he pointed out that it was me who told him to do it.

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