So back in the previous century when I was growing up you were either a kid or a teenager. There was no "tween" designation though we all were one at one point.
Yet I think tween is the perfect word for what I am seeing with my child these days. I have an 11 year old son and parenting him turns out to be quite the exercise for me.
He is at that weird stage, as if teenager time will be any less so?!, where he is not quite hormonal all the time but just when you least expect it. He is sort of starting to smell - especially around the feet area - but not quite ready to shower without prompting and by prompting I mean me telling him to do it or else. He is pretty tall and hungry a lot - like a lot - but I worry when I see a belly. He has a tear in his voice when I bring up said belly regardless of the amazingly well way I said it, I did so do not get all smug thinking I did not. I mentioned it in the context of how we all could eat a little better - he was not amused. He has a tear in his voice at times in ways that I as who really try and keep my drama to a minimum do not - I am not that girl even though I am sensitive so his reaction to me saying he needs to turn off Netflix leaves me puzzled, he is ready to cry but doesn't and it's just freaking Netflix which will be there exactly where you left off ? I mean really, what would he have done if he was growing up when I was and walk away from a tv show meant you lost that last part forever ?!! Then there is the "push my limits" time - complete with eye roll and passive aggressive questioning or defiance. This one is hard for me as I want to get up in his face Astoria parent style and I do not. I want to though because his answer for "why would you do ...insert totally obvious bad choice here?" is "I don't know" said in the tone of "I don't know so wish you would fuck off". I know that tone I used it -- but in my teens.
He is also becoming this person who has all these "things" he does with friends that I do not know every iota of, just enough to keep me feeling like it is all still stuck at video game and drool from afar after girl talk. They also seem to find it totally amusing to curse with one another ... but smart enough not to let us parents hear it lest we unleash our set of expletive why they cannot use expletives.
Yet through it all he still wants to come for a Sunday snuggle, or put head on my shoulder while we watch tv. He wants to get all the younger kid attention his 9 year old brother gets. He still acts often like the child he still is and is so much more innocent than the teenager he will be allows him to believe he is.
This season we navigated video games he wanted for Christmas .. he went on line to find persuasive arguments that went like this:
"You trust me right?"
Him "well in that case you know I know the difference between video game and reality and violence in Call of Duty is not real and you know I am not a psychopath so will not think killing people is actually ok."
Pretty good argument -- Me "yes I do know that but since you are not a psychopath why would you even want to play a game that allows you kill people ... doesn't that worry you that you may actually be tapping into a darker psyche."
Pause .. pause... shake of head and he says "this is not over but you have a point I think I have more research to do."
He thinks he is old enough but he is not and I have the tough job of knowing how to help him stretch the rubber band and not hold him back from knowing how to make decisions that are really bad.
It is the differences I see between the 9 year old and the 11 year old that really help me know I have a tween. The 9 year old is still so thrilled with the kiddie stuff .. while the 11 year old has to look to see who is hearing him say that something is cool if it is kiddie stuff. I am getting glimpses of the older self the 11 year old will be and I have to say while it makes me a bit misty for how quickly time is going I am so thrilled to see the man he is exhibiting. I love his independence and his willingness to let me know that he is getting bigger and I have to learn to help navigate that independence not curb it. I like that he still wants to hang out with me and consults me on things because that builds on what I want most for both of my kids - that they know no matter what I am here and we can figure it out together.
As the mother of a tween boy I want people to know that he is more fragile than he appears and will be mortified and angry when he reads this, that he is not quite the player that at times he may want you to think he is, that he is just learning to navigate the feelings he is having that are physical but still can hurt him, that he is going to tell you he is a man but he is just one in training, that he will learn to treat you and his body and sex with the awe it deserves because you are both way too young to have anything else to do with actual sex as tweens, that he may get his first real kiss right about now and that it will be magic even if it's sloppy and bit gross, that he still loves body function jokes and most of all that he really is a kid who is unsure what the world expects of him but knows that it seems to be expecting something.
A tween .. maybe it's prep work for the teenage years for both of us .. maybe it's just extended angst .. maybe it's just time to get a little less stinky ... but most of all it is just another great chapter in my motherhood.