Awesome Things About Having a Tween Boy

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swim-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.

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.

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).

Comments

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  1. 1

    Kerry Ann @Vinobaby's Voice says

    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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  2. 2

    Ariana says

    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?”

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  3. 3

    Debbie says

    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.
    Debbie

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    • 4

      Heather Holter says

      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!

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      • 5

        Debbie says

        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.
        Debbie

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  4. 6

    just JENNIFER says

    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….

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  5. 9

    Amanda says

    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!

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  6. 10

    ElisaM says

    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.

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  7. 11

    Denise says

    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!

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  8. 12

    RCMommy says

    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!

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  9. 15

    Alexis says

    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.

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  10. 18

    Janice says

    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.

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  11. 21

    Natasha says

    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 :)

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