“You have to sign this,” Tommy said, tossing a paper at me.
I saw the paper and…giggled. It was a permission slip for the Always Changing video. You know, the one generally made in the 80s that discusses puberty?
“Are they going to talk about my penis?” Tommy asked as I signed it.
“Well. Not yours precisely but penises in general,” I explained.
“I already know a lot,” Tommy said solemnly. It’s true. I bought him a book about boys when he was 9 because he kept asking about stuff that would happen down there.
“Is my voice going to change?” Tommy wondered for the millionth time as he tucked the permission slip into his backpack. I’m never sure how he finds stuff in there. It’s filled with old papers, new papers, plus a package of goldfishes that he’s never gotten around to eating (I imagine they’re now orange crumbs.)
He’s been obsessed with his voice changing for years. He’s said many times, “Will I wake up and have a deep voice? Will I even know who I AM anymore?”
“It happens gradually. Watch Peter Brady on The Brady Bunch,” I’ve instructed.
To which he was like, “I don’t want to get SQUEAKY! Kids will LAUGH!”
Anyway, Tommy went to school, watched the video, and when he returned he told me as though we were discussing the weather, “It’s okay if a penis gets big when you see a pretty girl.”
I nearly choked on my sip of Diet Coke. “That’s true.” I coughed. I wished Tom weren’t deployed. Penis talks belong to the men.
“Wet dreams happen,” Tommy shrugged.
A spray of crackers flew from my mouth. “They do.”
“Will I get hairs….you know…down there soon?” Tommy continued.
“It’s….yes…eventually,” I answered.
“And my voice will change? I can’t scream like a girl anymore. It won’t let me,” Tommy said, and demonstrated. Light sounds came from his throat. “That means it’s happening. Puberty.”
“The Addams Family named their son Pubert,” I said dumbly. Weird things pop into my mind when I’m uncomfortable.
We discussed ejaculation and body odor and yes, voice changing again.
Tom picked an excellent time to deploy.
(And yes, he can discuss puberty with Tommy via Skype but he also has two roommates who might not want to hear about ejaculation and penis hairs…so it mostly falls on me.)