Rite of Passage

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Puberty is always theoretical until it happens all at once, in our case this past weekend. Well, not for me but for my 11-year-old, Zane.

I got up early for church and after putting the cinnamon rolls in the oven, I woke up the boys.

Zane said, "Good morning." Overnight, his voice had dropped an octave. His nine-year old brother, Aidan, yelled, "Look what  Zane's got." Underneath Zane's bright blue, footed pajamas was one very upstanding sign that puberty had struck.

I'm the sentimental kind who cries at Hallmark commercials and here was my baby at the dawn of manhood. I teared up, but Aidan has always been the kind to ruin a Kodak moment and so he pointed to the pajamas and said, "That's disgusting." Zane blushed.

Some days you just got to be late for church.


My own mother had bungled the birds-and-the-bees speech. It was the late '60s, and the Sexual Revolution had not reached our Irish Catholic block in South Ozone Park. The dawn of my virility was marked by mom holding up an athletic supporter in a department store. She turned red and said, "I think you're going to need this for gym class." That's it, an elastic band with a pocket. No explanation. I cannot quite blame my deviant lifestyle on lack of instruction, but I would have liked to know my options.

I was determined to get this one right so that Zane couldn't complain to his future wife or therapist that his gay dads had stinted on the details of heterosexual coupling. I poured a cup of coffee and began, "Zane, this is the beginning of a great mystery."

Zane rolled his eyes. "Dad, you know we have been through this. I think I know enough about the mechanics. And, yes, I know -- respect for women."

I gave him a thumbs up and said, "Well then don't let your brother tease you or in two years you'll tease him. Congratulations. Today, you are a man."

With a Perspective, this is Kevin Fisher-Paulson.

Kevin Fisher-Paulson is a captain with the San Francisco Sheriff's Department.