Awesome Things About Having a Tween Boy


This summer will always stand out in my memory as the Summer I Acquired a Tween Boy. One day, my child was sleeping with eight gazillion stuffed animals (approximately), and the next, he was lying on the bed with earbuds in his ears, eyes trained intently on YouTube Minecraft video, not a stuffed animal to be found. (Don’t worry, beloved Tramp is still around — he’s just out of sight.) It happened that fast. Though he has always had a talent for surly eyerolls and smart (not in a good way) comebacks, my tween has raised the bar this summer after he turned 11. I have had more than one moment of panic as I realize we might have turned a corner and I may be on the way to having a full-blown teenager. The train is coming for me. I can hear the whistle — and it has an attitude.

So I am trying to focus a little on the good aspects of my oldest child’s new title. As with anything, it’s not all bad, this tween status. I have the benefit of comparing him every day to a more naive 9 year old, a rascal of an almost-6 year old, and a sweet, heading toward some super strong opinions toddler, so my oldest son’s current characteristics — both good and bad — stand out just that much more. Some things about a tween boy are actually kind of awesome:

1. We are finally on the same page when it comes to my need for occasional privacy. Don’t get me wrong — I still have no privacy to speak of, and I still don’t pee alone. However, my tween is not my problem on this issue. He agrees with me that it is, in fact, horrifying to see me naked, and he stays far away if he thinks it might be a possibility. If he manages to catch me undressed, he covers his eyes and lets out a yelp. Thanks a lot, and yet… Hallelujah.

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2. He finally makes sense when it comes to sleep. I do not understand small children and the way they both fight bedtime and yet embrace early mornings. My tween sleeps in as long as possible and then stays up late reading. That is perfectly acceptable, logical behavior to me, and a long time coming.

3. He’s capable of self-care. He’s out of diapers. He washes his own hair (I hope. Most of the time). He can make himself food and operate the microwave. He brushes his own teeth and he can find and put on his own clothes. He can swim. Somewhere, angels are singing. After years of the physical labor of small children, I have one off my plate. If only he knew how to successfully coordinate an outfit, we’d be cooking with gas.

4. He’s quiet. Oh, he whines and scoffs and sulks, sure. But in general, he’s now quieter than the other boys. Mostly because he sits in a corner with earbuds in most of the time. Trade-off.

5. He has a developed sense of humor. He actually makes me laugh — for the right reasons. He understands irony, and his wit is quick. This week, as he watched his brothers head toward the kiddie pool “because it’s warm,” he gave me a sly smile and said, “Wonder if they know why it’s warm?” I actually enjoy having his perspective around.

6. He can carry things competently. I can trust him to help lug baby gear in from the car, to carry a suitcase at the airport, and to juggle take-out and grocery bags when necessary. It’s like I grew two more hands — if those hands could talk and and chose to whine, “What am I, your servant?” (The answer is yes, yes you are. Here’s another bag, garçon.)

7. He likes my music. In the great DVD vs. CD war in the minivan, he votes with me. Yay for Imagine Dragons and Maroon 5 over a one-millionth showing of Wreck-It Ralph!

8. He can hold it. ‘Nuff said.

9. Sometimes, he busts out with the sweetest sentiments, and they are more precious because they are also more rare. Today when I dropped him off at sleepaway camp, he hugged me and whispered, “I am going to miss you,” then kissed his baby sister. “Do me a favor: don’t grow up too much,” he said, giving her chin a tweak. It just about left me a puddle on the wet, muddy ground.

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10. He appreciates adult food. He orders salads with his dinners, and he eats them. He still has his eating quirks — and the list of what he will not deign to eat is longer than I would love — but he’s refreshingly reasonable about trying a new food or eating with a more adult palate. I have hope he won’t be taking dates to McDonald’s someday.

I’m suddenly aware that I am in a middle place with my son that is a sweet moment in time — he’s no longer an unreasonable little kid, and he’s not yet an unreasonable teenager. He’s just old enough to be an enjoyable companion and still young enough to be my kid. Though I’m receiving more sophisticated ‘tude and glimpses of the stubborn willfulness that will likely drive me to a new relationship with a hair colorist in the next several years, I’m trying to live in this moment and enjoy it for what it is. When he was a baby, or even when he was 3, I could never imagine who he is now. This is a good place, even if it is temporary (and most likely way too brief).

About the writer


Allison is a writer and a mother of four children. Her writing can be found at her own blog, Allison Slater Tate, on Facebook, and Twitter.


Emily 2 months ago

Beautifully said. Made me cry. My baby, youngest of three and only boy, turned eleven in May. I often wonder what happened to my baby but on the flip side it is rewarding to watch him mature and grow into a teeny.

Amber 2 months ago

Hit the nail on the head with this. We just went through the great stuffed animal migration and the posters of favorite Pokemon and cartoons disappeared in favor of sports teams. But I can honestly say I like my kid. lol Always loved him, but I truly enjoy the person he is becoming. I guess we can breathe a bit as moms. So far so good

Monica 2 months ago

What is it about tween boys and not matching? Is that a nationwide thing? My so deliberately mismatches clothes, in the most jarring colors he can find. I don’t get it.

He has learned honesty and humor, but we are still working on tact. He works hard and plays harder. I was dreading these years…as a SPED teacher I learned I’m great with little ones, great with high school, can’t stand teaching kids between 6-8th grade. But I’m loving my son at this age. Maybe it’s like spices… A certain amount is good but more leaves you screaming!

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SakuraMari 1 year ago

I could say that you wrote this for my oldest son, who is 11. He has a younger brother and sister, and this is so perfectly fitting for what I see when I look at him… and also forcefully reminded when we argue, because he argues differently now. It’s almost an adult argument, and it’s scary. Regardless I love who he is becoming and what a fine grown man he will be when he gets older.
Thanks for writing this. You have eloquently put into words the emotions and feelings that many of us have.

Adrian 1 year ago

Great post. I know teens can be an enormous pain sometimes, but down underneath it all, they are still those adorable toddlers we used to love and I’m tired of them getting such a bad rap. I would say that I really enjoy my teen about 80% of the time and I can tolerate him the other 10%. Well, that last 10% makes me want to bury him out in the backyard, but so far I’ve managed to resist the temptation!

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Linda Love Atwater 2 years ago

guess I got on a hair color soap box. As a mother of a 36 yr old boy, I know what you are going through. Each stage is trying and loving. Love them but know that they are not yours, just given to you for a short time. Teach them well and give them wings. they will fly out of your house but not your heart. hugs on your journey of motherhood. It will never be boring.

Linda Love Atwater 2 years ago

amen. so many are trying to get their youth back in a bottle or think that a stylist knows the best color for them. I was one of them. Every 6wks, or longer if I highlighted . Then one day I decided that I was done with putting chemicals on my head and started the scary journey of seeing what God had planted on my head that I had been covering up for years. Amazing that it was a perfect match to my complexion. No more trying to find products to match my hair:) I would love to have the silver hair that so many women have – oh and the curls.. do I love the curls. another stage of cut, color, perm. repeat. But I have horsehair straight.

Faye Deister 2 years ago

I hope you're writting all this down in your journal, time passes quickly and soon you will not remember all that happened this summer or other happenings before. I am sorry that I did not write down the things that happened with my kids. Love Mom.

Aimee 2 years ago

Mine just turned 12 – SAME THING! Love that he can do so much for himself, but he still likes to snuggle now and then. I appreciate it DEEPLY every time he ends a phone call with “love you!” even before I say it!!!

Christine Crawford-Yorihiro 2 years ago

Made me cry and smile :)

Lisa Weddle Alexander 2 years ago

Thank you for sharing. Mine just turned 12. I am seeing a lot of the same. Sad thing is, I only have one child. When the baby look is gone it's gone, now the little boys look is gone. Before long he will be all grown up.

Out One Ear 2 years ago

I love your take on this. Especially the privacy and the sense of humor. I loved it when my son finally made jokes that were actually funny–and on target. Boys have it just as rough as girls in this age–maybe rougher. They know they have to grow up and move out at some point and I think it is equally scary for them as it is for us. There were times when my son hit the teens that it felt like he was locked in a gunny sack, pushing and pulling trying to free himself of, well, of us and our rules. Kids often turn out like their parents, but in their teens/tweens, our son resisted this notion. Big time. He wanted to be different. Very different. Fast forward to 30. He's just like us. :-)

Megly Mc 2 years ago

My twins are entering that same age, and it’s so sweet, and yet, with each cuddle (that only takes place outside of the sightline of other human beings), I am acutely aware that my days of getting these are severely numbered, and barring a tragic teenage pregnancy, it will be a few decades before I get more.

Bryna Spector Bernstein 2 years ago

my son exactly! great to see the positive since so many of us focus on the negative. Love the fact that my 12 1/2 yr old can now voice his opinion and give logical reason.

Deborah Burgee 2 years ago

Just entering Tweenhood with my first. Thank you for sharing the positive side of things with Tweens.

Brandie Anderson 2 years ago

You ARE talking about my son Garrett who turned 11 in April!! When the ear buds came out this summer,Garrett offered the sleeping services of Bear Bear & Growler to his younger brother whose 7. :-)

Shari Younkin-Sutton 2 years ago

I could relate to this too! :)

Dana Galvin Fortin 2 years ago

Love love love this.. My son is 13 and I felt like I was reading our life…

Hila Orni Zewi 2 years ago

That is very sweet. But there is no real need for a hair colorist – just as we embrace our children's life phases, we can embrace our own!

WeezaFish 2 years ago

How lovely :) I have two boys, 3 and nearly 6, and like many Mums there’s a part of me that wants to keep them small. I’m now really looking forward to them growing up. I mean, I’m still in no rush but I know I’ll enjoy each stage as it comes. Thank you!

Diane Mills 2 years ago

You have incredible insight and a gift for observing the details that most overlook!

Nicki Schnurr 2 years ago

A little weepy here…my boy will be 11 in a month and I see these things in him. The whole relationship changes when they can sit shotgun in the car!

Bryna Darling 2 years ago

You had me at "YouTube MineCraft video"….wtf is up with that?

Frankie Lawson 2 years ago

My oldest child is six, and he’s a boy. Thank you for giving me a glimpse into my future.

Heather 2 years ago

This is great! The best part about having a tween is getting to know them in a different way. Starting to see the adult they are becoming. I have a tween girl but many of these still apply.

Edel 2 years ago

You have encapsulated it to perfection. this is exactly what I have with my 12 year old son. Thank you.

Karyn M. Osuna-Poindexter 2 years ago

My son just turned 7 and thinking of him in this light.. God, it makes me tear up! I seriously am in tears, not wanting him to grow up. :( Although, the list you have here sounds wonderful! Looks like you've done a good job, mama!

monica 2 years ago

I have my first summer with an 11 year old boy and I completely agree with all that you said. Reading this – it was like you were here watching us (but not that creepy). I loved this post and it brought a tear to my eye to think that this is the last summer it will be just like this.

Ritu Lalit 2 years ago

Enjoy it. After the no-communication period when they are teenagers, they become adults and then the actual conversations start! First they blame you for everything (memory of an elephant) but then they start becoming good friends – with quirks and then some woman comes along and snatches them out of your hands sigh …

Heather Holter 2 years ago

Sounds exactly like my son who will be 11 in october and has 4 younger siblings him being the oldest.

Amanda Martin 2 years ago

This is so encouraging. I watch my youngest, my boy, growing sassier and further away from cuddles as he reaches three, and I worry that's my baby gone forever.
Actually, who am I kidding, it's my daughter reaching tween that terrifies me. We already clash like crazy and she's not yet five…

Aimee Ryan Magee 2 years ago

built like a defensive lineman. On one hand, he'll be able to move furniture; on the other, he's going to eat us out of house and home.

Tina Brown Harris 2 years ago

What a wonderful post! I have an 11 year old son and can relate to EVERYTHING that you're talking about. Speaking of your other kids, I have a 4 year old that is trying to hang with the 11 year old (he looks up to big brother) AND a 17 year old son that the 11 year old would love to be able to hang out with. Still trying to find that happy medium.

Rebecca 2 years ago

This is so sweet and so true. I see (and hear) my own 12 year old here!

Jessica, The Debt Princess 2 years ago

I have a 10 1/2 year old and just the other night we were talking about whether it was ok that he still had stuffed animals. I was very strong in favor of keeping them. Keeping them for as long as possible!

I’m not really ready for him to grow up yet because I know the next 8 years are going to go by so fast and then he’ll be on his own. But after reading this, maybe I can celebrate just a bit of his new found maturity.

Thanks for this post.

Wendy Block 2 years ago

Ritu Lalit Mine never really was non-communicative, he was just a sweet, funny young man who got snatched up by a woman way too soon! Now a married daddy himself, and definitely no longer my little boy!

Susan Sheppard Hime 2 years ago

OMG! My son turned 11 at the beginning of the summer, and the exact things on this list are what I would have written! I was just yesterday telling a friend the wonderful new perks of having a tween, even as I mourn not having a "little boy" anymore…and I'm pretty sure I mentioned most, if not all, of these points. Great writing!

Gata Pantera Negrra 2 years ago

My boy is 14…and this sounds a lot like him.

Julie 2 years ago

I LOVE this post. My oldest son is 8 right now, and we are dealing with a lot of attitude and eye rolling, but he is still my sweet little boy, and I love the positive nature of this post because I am DREADING having a tween/teen boy, much less two!!! I hope I can find this post in 3 years!

Aimee Szikszay Holthaus 2 years ago

I have only been around Tyler a few times but I can definitely see so much of that. :-)

Andrea 2 years ago

I have an 11 year old boy and this post is spot-on. While I am happy for his “new” ways, I still miss my baby from time to time.

Wendy 2 years ago

What a perfect post! My baby will be 12 soon, and he isdoing all of these things. He’s a mindcraft ADDICT, so that cracked me up! His sisters are 20 and 18, so I know what is ahead. I’m very much enjoying the fact he still enjoys my company. I’m loving this stage and really trying to savor every moment. Why do they grow so fast?

Selina Jackson 2 years ago

This is my summer too this year. :) Well said!

Anita @ Losing Austin 2 years ago

I’m right there with my just turned 10 year old. I know there are rough times ahead, but to be able to have him relatable, and even be able to laugh with him at the antics of the little one is priceless.

lisa 2 years ago


Roshni AaMom 2 years ago

Ritu, I'd laugh if I didn't know that that is true!!

Natasha 2 years ago

I tell you what, that big bro lil sis combo melts me right into mush. Even when he’s mean, boy oh boy if she cries he is right there. Boys are something special :)

Roshni 2 years ago

I’m there right now with my older son! He has a wonderful quirky sense of humor and I delight when he gets my sarcasm!

Roshni AaMom 2 years ago

I'm there right now with my older son! He has a wonderful quirky sense of humor and I delight when he gets my sarcasm!

Janice 2 years ago

My super terrific and well-adjusted son just turned 12 in June. This is a wonderful piece of writing about the tween boy. I watch as his brain forgets, his attention tunes out, and his multitasking ability increased but only when it involves listening to music, playing video games and Kiking with his friends on his iPod. But this is just a wonderful reminder of what is truly wonderful about him at this age.

Lisa Coleman 2 years ago

Omg! My son is doing all of those things. He just turned 13 in May. At least I know I am not the only one. lol

Pam Taylor 2 years ago

Wow! As we celebrate my oldest son's 12th birthday today I see all of these things in him.

Alexis 2 years ago

We’re sneaking up on tweendom (OK not quite yet) and already my son hides if he’s not dressed when I walk in the room. Such a far cry from the little dude who refused to put pants on, even at dinner time. Ah…I miss those days.

Hillary 2 years ago

I love this beautiful and positive post!

Kelley Hanly Mahoney 2 years ago

This is my son to a T! You couldn't of said it better…brought a tear to my eye!

RCMommy 2 years ago

What is it with the Minecraft videos on YouTube??? Ours does EXACTLY the same things. One minute loveable, the next minute … um … less so. But so nice to have him growing up. He even “babysits” his younger brother so we can go out at night!

Denise 2 years ago

This is an awesome age, still a kid you can go have fun with, but not s baby. My two guys are 6 and 14 and I’m soooooo done with babies. My newly minted teen hasn’t developed (much) attitude yet. Bliss!

ElisaM 2 years ago

I’m right there with you, and also have a 9, 6, and 2 year old to compare him to. I think the best thing is how helpful he is with his 2 year old brother, I try not to take advantage of it but he’s been helpful right from the beginning.

Amanda 2 years ago

I’m almost blubbering at work! My twin boys are 8 years old and while that tween status is still a little ways off, I’ve already started seeing glimpses of it & I am looking forward to it!

Cheryl Lage 2 years ago

Our He-Twin is right there, too….we’re bridging the two worlds. A lovely, lovely piece…thank you!

Mary Ann 2 years ago

LOVE it! Going to be there soon too!

just JENNIFER 2 years ago

Tweendom is absolutely a great thing. My daughter JUST turned 13. Besides the fact that she somehow got it in her head that she should suddenly be allowed to go places by herself, so far it’s still pretty cool. We shall see how things progress….

Debbie 2 years ago

I never had any boys, but I have heard that they are much easier than girls (I have 3 of those). I don’t believe a parent worries as much about boys when they are out with friends doing there thing. As for girls you just hope they can take care of themselves if something not so good does happen.

I would say enjoy your son ever moment and hope for the best when your daughter hits the tween years. It is a whole new experience.
What ever you do neverrrr bring up the word hormones to a daughter. They will use it for there actions every chance they get.
It’s like telling little kid sugar will give them a high. They use it as an excuse for of the wall behavior.
If you do have an major problems remember if you teach them to be independent and you are lucky they will leave home someday.
They grow fast so please do enjoy them even will you are getting your hair died.

    Heather Holter 2 years ago

    I Don’t quite believe that boys are easier than girls! I have one boy who is quite the handful, 2 very easy girls, and then one typical girl (drama queen, emotional) and a very easy boy. I think each kid is different regardless of gender, some are easy, some not so much!

      Debbie 2 years ago

      You are right Heather, because with my girls the last one was much easier than the first 2. they are all different and their own person. Have to love that. It is so much fun watching them grow and learn.

      As for boys I am finding with my grandson they are just easier going than the girls, but who knows they are very little yet. Not so much drama.

Ariana 2 years ago

I have 3 sons, all over 18 now, and so related to each point! As for # 6 …yay!!!! All 3 boys always had interesting taste in music, but as they grew through their teens, not only our tastes align, but they introduced me to a lot of super music. And #7..yeah, its pretty great. When they complain about the chores and tasks I give them, I just say, “Why do you think I had kids, anyway?”

Kerry Ann @Vinobaby’s Voice 2 years ago

Oh, I feel you. My son is right on the cusp. His room is still littered with stuffed animals, but he can disappear into his own world of “grown up games and music” for hours.

How do they grow up so fast?


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