The world of teenage boys is a minefield.

My guy travelled to his Grandma to spend Christmas with my husband's family. He has been pretty psyched about the prospect of seeing the young friends around his age who usually come to these gatherings, and who might also be bringing the latest PSP or Wii games to help make the trauma of full-contact family gatherings more bearable. And though his scheduled routines get screwed up in a new place and new routine, there is usually someone there who knows how he is, and can get him calmed if he is getting upset by teasing or too much roughhousing.

Though all the kids are really nice (and from what I've seen, nice to him), they are young guys, growing up and involved in their peer groups and friendships at their schools. Bringing those contacts and experiences into the holiday gatherings as well. Unwittingly or deliberately leading their friends into modern adolescence: violent games, suggestive lyrics, rap videos, drugs, sex. The code of silence.

The minefield.

I remember the shock and titillation the first time I heard "nasty" song lyrics whispered by a new kid in our neighborhood, whose family was damaged and dysfunctional, who eavesdropped on her older brothers' world to collect what she could use to keep us interested. We hooted with laughter, yet guiltily, eagerly hung on every word. I hadn't even had my first crush on a boy yet, but was getting my first lessons about sex mixed with the guilty excitement that accompanied the lesson. It took some of my childhood. Some of my innocence. It became a secret. And for years I became adept at hiding my secrets from my parents, my family and romantic relationships, and ultimately my real self.

And now that he is thirteen, I am watching for signs of it in my son, too.

I don't know some aspects of his deeper personality. The things that might attract him, the flipsides, pitfalls. What he thinks about, struggles with. His tendencies to secrecy and poor judgement, the things he wants to know but is too embarassed to ask.

I realize I am trying to assess the risks to find out how much my son watches the guys he thinks/wants/hopes are his friends, and what he will do to join the club, like that poor degraded girl years ago who saw depravity as a way to be liked.

I spent years trying to sweep the minefield ahead of time, trying to anticipate the risk, all the while knowing I can't anticipate everything he needs. So I need to see it a different way.

It might not be the minefield I have imagined it to be. And with what I am learning about the nature of reality, might not even a place of any danger at all. What would happen if I saw him as being complete and learning how to live in his life? What would happen if he had more responsibility for his life? What would happen if I saw his world in a different way--as a good place to live, able to teach him what he needed to learn?

And he could show me that the perception of the minefield are my projections of my own issues on him. It's like imagining alligators lurking in the cracks between the stepping stones that becomes a sidewalk again instantly when you choose to play another game.

It sounds good. Playing. Beats mine-sweeping any day.

Read my blog on life as a professional photographer documenting the details of raising my twice-exceptional son at http://2happinessphotography.wordpress.com/