My Son is a Tween! Somebody Please Stop the Time Machine!


See this picture?It recently popped on that Facebook “On This Day” feature…aka “memory tearjerkers that make me feel old.” This particular memory was from about six years ago when my son was in first grade. Initially, I posted the picture in 2010 and joked that in 12 years (from that moment), my son might be a future Binghamton-ite, which is where I went to college. And chuckled mightily at the fact that the year 2022 was so very far away.

Well, with what feels the equivalent of using the “five arrow fast forward” option on the DVR setting… it’s 2017. Poof! The boy is 12 and in seventh grade! We must have been in a time machine because there’s no way this could have happened so fast. I was just in seventh grade, no? 

And it dawned on me that it’s halfway from when I initially snapped that picture in 2010 until he heads to college in 2022. He’s halfway through his elementary education (more so if you count Kindergarten). He’s 50 cents to the dollar. He’s the end of June in a given year. He’s hump day Wednesday. He’s 6 inches on a one-foot ruler! He’s Monticello, New York! (1/2 way from our current city of Mount Kisco, NY to Binghamton, NY).

He’s halfway there. Time flies! Don’t blink! Enjoy them when they are young! Good lord, my life is a cliché. I hated when people threw out those sayings. All I heard was blah, blah, blah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Go away. And now I’m like, “Holy! They were right!” Man, those folks were spot on! Oh, and get this, now I say that same crap to people, which makes me hate myself sometimes. I apologize to these folks now. They’ll understand in a few years…(See? I did it again – another cliché.)

My son’s Bar Mitzvah is planned for December 9, 2017. My son? Not someone else’s son…my son. Have I mentioned my recent trip on a time machine? So this is the date that my son officially becomes a man in the Jewish religion. It’s a beautiful service and tradition, but to think of my son as a man? Uh-uh. Man-ish, maybe, if anything.  

He’s not the most independent boy in the world, but there are certainly signs that he is maturing and growing up. I know that this isn’t anything that any parent of a preteen boy hasn’t experienced, but he is my first (and only) son, and I’ve never been a tween boy myself, so it’s all new to me.  

If you find yourself in this situation dealing with a tween boy, here are some changes that I’ve noticed. So many changes so quickly!

That Physical Metamorphosis:

  • The first sign of anything related to growth has to be that tween boy smell. Deodorant is a must! 
  • Hairy legs (just the legs here so far!)   
  • Pimples! 
  • His eyebrows finally fit his face.
  • The need to shower every day. More, if possible.
  • My son and I now have the same shoe size. This is of great benefit to me because I love all things shoes and can sometimes take a walk in his sneakers. Vice versa hasn’t worked out quite as well for him.
  • Did I mention the tween boy smell? Pass the nose plugs!

Those Behavioral Revisions:

  • He is interested in brushing his hair about 80% of the time.
  • He somewhat cares about his clothes (although there was a recent time when he would have left the house in pajamas if my husband didn’t stop him).
  • He cuts his fingernails and toenails (this one is perfectly acceptable!).
  • He no longer announces when he’s going to the bathroom.
  • He no longer follows me around the house.
  • A lot fewer homework battles (Hallelujah!). 
  • Definitely more of the “I can do it myself” attitude.
  • I carried in a few packages from Stew Leonard’s last week without being asked. My husband and I almost fainted.

The Emotional Enhancements:

  • Developing a calmness as he matures. For example, he no longer has meltdowns over losing when playing video games.
  • He is growing into his older brother role. He supports his younger sister – even when he doesn’t realize he is doing so.  
  • He realizes the need to be more independent as he gets older and his dad’s travel schedule increases.
  • Less tolerant of hugs and kisses from me in public (insert mom tears).
  • Thinks deeply. This isn’t new, but it’s certainly deeper and more worldly. He took note of a homeless man during our trip to Washington, D.C., and asked questions about how the man got there, how that happens, how we can help, etc. The situation tugged at his heart. 
  • The boy is a feeler. (He gets this from me!). Last summer, there was a day camp trip to a small aeronautics museum. The facilitator of their tour was an elderly man who was a retired pilot. My son was visibly bothered that many of the kids were bored and didn’t have many kind words about the facilitator.
  • The want for space, independence, and privacy. This kid never wanted to be left alone and followed me around like a lost puppy.

These may seem minor to folks who have gone through it, but it’s so new to me. And such vivid changes. Where’s my little guy who always wanted one more hug before bed, one who wouldn’t let go of me at day camp without one more “pick up” hug; my little guy who cried when I left after helping out at Team Space in Kindergarten? It must be that darn time machine again.   

Thankfully, there are still little child-like signs, which I’ll share, although he might hate me for it. He still likes to be tucked into bed with hugs and kisses. He still wants to be loved. And his voice sounds like that of a 2-year-old girl over the phone. Some encouragement is still needed to remind him that he can do things independently. He has no seeming interest in the opposite sex. And when he feels like the world is crumbling, having trouble with schoolwork, or feels icky, it is mom’s hugs that the kid runs for. I guess I still have a little power to make things better.

“To raise a child who is comfortable enough to leave you means you’ve done your job.  They are not ours to keep but to teach how to soar on their own.”  Author Unknown

This quote can be a hard pill to swallow for a parent, but it speaks the truth. I have such admiration for my son, who he is becoming, and what he will offer the world. How could I ask for anything more? If his personality and current actions are any indications, he will be one sweet and caring man. My sensitive soul. My good egg. And he is truly the only one in the whole world who can always make me smile. 

So, here I am. I’m a mom of a tween, journeying on into a different part of our lives. He no longer says that he wants to marry me. He no longer shuns the idea of sleep-away camp. And after years of saying he’s not going away to college, I think he’s swaying the other way. Hey, maybe he’ll wear that Binghamton sweatshirt after all? But no rush…and to be safe, I’m unplugging that time machine.