"You call me Boy Child on the internet, don't you?"
I was surprised by his question. He doesn't spend much time on the internet and when he does, it's certainly not looking at anything his mom writes. He looks at YouTube and Cartoon Network (which, at eleven, he still pronounces "neckwork"). Sometimes he looks at this hilarious animated thing with stick figures, one of which is named Carl. Carl likes to camp and the other stick figures are forever shouting, "Carl! No camping!" But I digress.
"Yes, I call you Boy Child on the internet."
"Why?" He's not angry or upset in asking this. It's genuine curiosity.
I explain to him that the world, unfortunately, isn't always a friendly place. That I don't reveal his name for his own safety and protection. That I value his privacy, even though he doesn't really even understand what that means yet. That sometimes, I talk about his farts and someday he might have a girlfriend and be REALLY EMBARRASSED by the fact that I talk about his farts.
"Everyone farts," he reminded me.
"Even you mom."
He ignored his math homework for a few minutes and then asked, "What will happen when I'm a grown-up?"
"What do you mean?"
"When I'm a grown-up, I won't be a boy. You can't call me Boy Child if I'm not a boy, right?"
I cannot bring myself to think of him not being a boy anymore than I can bring myself to think about a time that I might not be writing, so instead I say, "I'll just call you Man Child."
He seemed very pleased by that.
For a minute.
Then he asked, "Can't you just call me by my name when I'm eighteen? By then I'll be black belt and if anyone lays a hand on my privacy I can kick their ass."
It's a deal, Boy Child. It's a deal.