The Massive Changes That Occur When Kids Turn 12
Twelve didn’t seem monumental. Yet it is. The amount of changes kids experience during the last year of preteen glory is mind-blowing.
When I think back to my own twelfth year, my transformation was extreme and fundamental. Granted, my children live in a different time and are a different gender, but they will probably feel similar thrills and pangs about this year in hindsight too.
I’m not so far removed that I don’t remember what it was like to be young, confused, and convinced I’d never learn how to shave properly.
The first half of the year, I attended seventh grade at…was it a middle school, a seventh grade center, or a junior high back then? The summer came and went. I spent the second half adjusting to eighth grade at a real junior high. I felt so grown up.
Who I was going into my twelfth year was very different from who I was when it was over:
In the beginning of the year, I played the flute. Toward the end, I French-kissed a boy for the first time. Couldn’t get a pleasant sound out of either one.
In the beginning, kids called me Casper, because I was pale and kind and sweet. In the end, they called me Lucy, because I looked like the cartoon character from Peanuts and often acted like her, too.
In the beginning, I wore a feather in my hair until the principal banned roach clips in school. In the end, I was chewing on cinnamon toothpicks until the principal banned them for causing hallucinations. That’s when I learned students weren’t supposed to be happy.
In the beginning of seventh grade, I wore parachute pants and shoulder pads. In the end, I wore blue eyeshadow. And wondered why I was alone.
In the beginning of my twelfth year, I had no breasts and drank milkshakes with raw eggs while doing “Increase My Bust” exercises. At the end of my twelfth year, I had no breasts and drank milkshakes with raw eggs while doing “Increase My Bust” exercises.
In the beginning, I felt scared to be in the house by myself. In the end, I was babysitting the kids across the street and paying them two percent of my salary to get lost.
In the beginning, I loved Golden Earring and Lionel Richie. In the end, Duran Duran and U2 consumed me.
In the beginning, I rode my bike everywhere. In the end, I was tagging along with Becky’s older sister, who taught us how to make dresses out of garbage bags.
In the beginning, I was watching On Golden Pond with the whole family. In the end, I was sneaking into 48 Hours with Cathy.
In the beginning of my twelfth year, I was smoking Yves St. Laurent menthol cigarettes. At the end of my twelfth year, I’d moved on to Camels and fancied myself a badass.
In the beginning, I wanted my dad to go away. By the end, he had.
In the beginning, I wasn’t allowed to spend the night at friends’ houses. In the end, I was sticking bras in freezers overnight with the best of ’em.
In the beginning, I wasn’t thinking a single profound thought. At the end, I was filling up an entire diary.
In the beginning, I listened to my parents’ radio stations. In the end, I discovered alternative music.
In the beginning of my twelfth year, friends faded from memory as soon as I left school. By the end of my twelfth year, I’d met those who would play a major role in the rest of my life.
As I guide my children through their own transformations, it helps to remember back thirty years and remember how much I, myself, changed.
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