We made it to the resort! But more on that later. Not sure of my blogging time this weekend as we have lots of socializing and activities going on, but had a few minutes and wanted to finish up this post that I almost had completed a few days ago.
While this post is void of kink, I guess it still qualifies as avant garde. The thought of a pre-teen/teen dating can make even the calmest of parents nervous. It poses a greater dilemma when you add nudism, a disability, and then throw in a six year age difference! Yikes!
My last posted ended with the mention that my youngest, J, is “in love” with E’s cousin’s youngest daughter… I’ll call her “L.” She is 11. J is 17, and I have written many times about his disabilities. J is a “very young” 17, and L is a more advanced 11, but still, age is age. That’s a huge difference. But before I dive into that, here’s the backstory.
IN THE BEGINNING
Their connection was almost immediate. When they first met L was very engaging and warm towards J. That’s just her personality, but over time it became clear to us that L really enjoyed being around J. She is a natural “nurturer” and I think J’s special needs touched her. And J’s humor meshes with hers, and they enjoy playing board games and other games together. Just good friends enjoying each other’s company – a lot.
J was starting to always ask when he could visit L (not “When can I visit T1,” but specifically, “When can I visit L?” And apparently L was saying similar things at home. There is nothing wrong with two kids of opposite genders liking each other’s company and none of us thought it was anything more than just that.
L’s mom and I were sitting outside talking. L and J were walking towards us, holding hands. It isn’t uncommon for J to hold hands with someone. It helps him with his balance, especially when the terrain is uneven – and there is plenty of that on their farm. But, there is holding hands for physical support, and then there is holding hands for an emotional connection. It was clear this was more the latter.
L’s mom was the first to comment. “So L, I see the two of you are holding hands a lot, what do you feel about that?” L wasn’t the least bit shy, embarrassed, or apologetic. “Yeah, we like holding hands. I like being around him. He’s my boyfriend now.”
And if that declaration wasn’t enough to get our attention, she then added, “I even gave him a kiss on the lips.” She said it with a proud sense of accomplishment, completely unashamed or the least bit concerned.
L’s mom, “C”, was the first to speak. “Okay, that’s nice. I am glad you are enjoying each other’s company. Can you both take a seat and let us talk about you and your boyfriend?” To which L stated, “Sure.” I’ll spare the sentence-by-sentence dialogue – but the conclusion was clear. They like each other, and it is very innocent. The “peck on the lips” was the most salacious part of it.
I let C do most of the questioning as I wanted to follow her lead and support her wishes. Her 11-year-old “baby girl” just proclaimed to having kissed a boy. That’s a lot for any parent to hear, even in “normal” situations. But C handled it like pro.
At some point C said, “So, if you are going to kiss you need to know some rules. You can hold hands, and a peck on the lips is fine but no need to have your mouths all over each other.” This quickly elicited a “Gross, no way,” from both L and J. “And you respect each others body – no need to touch body parts, including genitals.” To which L responded, “Good grief, no way mom, right J?” J concurred, “I wouldn’t do that.”
J’s only other comment was to me asking, “So you are okay with her being my girlfriend?” To which I replied, “Sure, as long as L and her parents say it is okay.” And with that the conversation was done and they both wanted to go inside to watch a movie.
I felt a need to provide more limitations…like, “Don’t kiss again!” or “don’t be in the house alone.” I mean, they are naked after all! But, I played off of C’s calmness and let it go. I figured I could talk to her a few minutes and then go inside and check up on things. C could see my uneasiness and said, “They will be fine. Let’s give them a little time to get their movie going and then we need to move inside anyway, it’s getting too hot out here.”
THE MOM’S TALK – NUDITY!?
Once the kids left I told C that I am concerned about the age difference and about J’s disability, but first and foremost, uh, you know, they are both naked! How do nudist families deal with the fact that everything is. . . well, . . . so accessible?
C said this is nothing new – she grew up as nudist and has a 15 and 17 year old. She assured me that just because there is easier “access” to sex parts doesn’t mean that’s where kids want to immediately go. In her experience, their body positivity, confidence, and openness doesn’t invite sex, it actually seems to inhibit it as far as teen sex goes.
She added that L knows how “everything works” and there isn’t much left to be curious about. She feels L understands boundaries and, at least in C’s experience, not only do her kids feel less pressure to give in, but they feel more empowered to say no. She repeated the mantra I’ve heard many many times since exploring nudism — “nudism is not sex.”
And she added, “and kids who grow up as nudist don’t even relate to why that statement is even necessary to say. It’s not like seeing her breasts will make him want to get her pants off, or that she is going to be curious about seeing him naked. They’ve see all of that all the time. Sex in nudism isn’t about seeing body parts, it is about sex. And it seems pretty clear neither L nor J have sex on their minds.”
C said she has had “the talk” with L, but it was less of a single talk and more of a lifelong exposure to addressing the topic whenever it was appropriate to do so. C feels L isn’t even that interested about it and wouldn’t venture beyond the kiss at this point. Further, C felt that L would talk about any other desires she was feeling before she acted on them.
That sounds hard to imagine, but C said both her other kids came to her with questions. Her middle girl (age 15, I’ll refer to her as M for middle), is a virgin, but her son (age 17, I’ll refer to him as B) is not. C said they are all comfortable talking about such things and thus she is confident that L will be fine. C disclosed that M even told her that she was attracted to girls and boys, so yeah, C feels her kids are very comfortable coming to her about such things. Of course, C did say this means a further parental discussion with L and more attention to her behaviors around J, but nothing to cause a panic.
THE PARENTS TALK – AGE DIFFERENCE?
C conceded that yes, 17 is too old for L, but, her concern is alleviated because of what she knows and sees in J and in us. She said she doesn’t feel the need to assume the worse, and she isn’t about to try to shame L in any way. She feels L respects the rules and understand enough about her body and feelings to ask questions before doing anything more physically and hopes that I ensure J does the same.
C stated that from an age perspective M may seem more appropriate for J – but both of us quickly laughed at that. M is way more emotionally mature than J and just into completely different things (more age appropriate things regarding music, pop culture, entertainment, you name it). M provided a good point of reference as to why someone younger than 15 is more on J’s level regarding girlfriend material.
Regardless the age difference, actual age is also another concern. L is bit young, having turned 11 just over a month ago. But I defer to C on that as she is not my child. Ultimately, if L’s parents support her in this, then so be it. C was crystal clear she would never want to inject guilt or shame in anything they are feeling about each other. She feels strongly it isn’t about shaming them into keeping boundaries, it is about educating them about the importance of such boundaries. It’s sad that her approach is probably considered “progressive” as frankly, it should be the norm.
THE PARENTS TALK – J’s DISABILITY?
I had never given much thought to J ever falling in love. Shame on me for that. I think there is a tendency, even for a parent, to discount certain things in people with disabilities. One of those things is their ability and capacity to love someone in a more amorous way. J is emotionally delayed, and has various anxiety issues and physical limitations (more around low muscle tone and unsteady gait), but, he isn’t missing any emotions.
J feels the same things everyone else feels – sometimes in an amplified manner. It is that “amplification” that concerns me, as he can often get overwhelmed with intense emotion of any kind. Anticipation, even when it is over something good, can create a lot of anxiety in him. We actually noticed this about our plans to visit T1. J would get very anxious about any delay on the way as he couldn’t wait to see L.
My concerns with J are twofold – his behavior, specifically anything sexual, and how he handles being away from L.
Sex-wise, the issue isn’t about some evil or malicious intent on J’s part. It is about basic human reaction. How will he react if he gets an erection, can he make sense of the hormones and urges building up inside him? How can he keep any impulses in check when, impulsiveness and OCD like behaviors are part of who he is?
While J already had an understanding of the technical aspects of the birds and the bees, suffice to say there have been several more talks since this event occurred. And not about the mechanics of sex, but about the feelings and how those feelings should be properly expressed. Both Mike and I feel J can handle a relationship with L and that it would remain appropriate for their “emotional” ages.
I was concerned about how J would handle being away from her. They don’t live close – about a 3 hour drive. Turns out, J’s own tendencies helped address this. J can heavily compartmentalization things and those compartments are very black and white. His anxiety stays in check if we set the right expectation – and fulfill that expectation.
For now with this trip on the calendar J knew he would soon see L. I think I mentioned that most of E’s family is at the resort – her parents, some siblings, a few cousins, even her grand parents. So “the Nudies” are here too. We also have a few more weekends planned to help T1 and E out with their renovations. Beyond that we will have to try and set some schedule, perhaps a weekend here or there, or even invite L to our house. If it is something we can put on a calendar and commit too, J is great with handling a schedule. Basically for him, if it is on the schedule, then there is nothing to get anxious about before hand because it just “isn’t time” for that particular thing to happen.
SURE OF THINGS
I was curious about what they liked in each other. What is it than an 11-year old fully functioning, able-bodied girl would see in a 17-year old boy with a disability? So I asked her.
L said she likes to help J, whether it is helping him up a step or help him figure something out. She also said he was funny and liked a lot of the same things she liked. But the most touching thing she said was that J had this joy about him and he wasn’t afraid to just “let that joy out.” She said he is so certain about things. “Not in a bossy way or trying to show off or impress me, but he is so sure of things. No boy I know is like that.”
Seeing J through L’s eyes was so amazing. J is very self assured. He has never “wanted” for more abilities. He accepts that his issues are just part of who he is. He is also never shy to proclaim his thoughts (which sometimes can be awkward and/or very funny).
I always see this in him, and it was touching that this little girl sees it too – and more importantly, just doesn’t see it, but values it – the way I do. And L’s own self-assuredness probably intimidates and repels every boy her own age. I can see why L is attracted to that in J.
And I asked J what he liked about L. He said she talks to him like we talk to him and most kids don’t do that. Even when she asked him questions about his disability it was like, “so what’s that about.” and “she didn’t even make a face when I explained it.” He also added that she was funny and just made him feel good to be around and summed it all up with, “She is a good friend and has a good spirit.”
Their intentions are much more innocent than we may assume about their peers (and especially about their parents!). So we all are taking a deep breath, remaining calm and supportive, but yeah, still keeping an extra eye out.