I recall having a mini nervous breakdown the morning my tween son sat down at the island for breakfast, and I noticed his childhood nose had disappeared. He had grown a young man new nose overnight! When he left the kitchen, I sobbed like a basket case. Like I did after dropping him off on his first day of Kindergarten.
Parents of tweens must watch their children bid goodbye to childhood wonder and innocence every day. They may even grieve the old nose. The adolescent years can feel like unfamiliar territory for kids and adults alike, but there is plenty to celebrate about the ‘between years.’ And let’s not forget: not everything about the younger ones was rosy!
The following lighthearted reminders are designed to keep your thoughts optimistic, your sense of humor in check and your views about ‘tweendom’ positive.
1. Children in the double digit years do a significantly better job vacuuming. True, there are toddlers who can swiffer like a bandit… just sayin’.
2. 11 year olds cannot legally drive. Hallelujah, they are not yet behind the wheel, meaning you may sleep semi-peacefully at night for a few more years.
3. Cue the confetti - Go, Diego, Go has left the building! Sure there is a wealth of good children’s programming on the air, but there are also theme songs and quirky characters we won’t miss one bit.
4. Tweens read better than second-graders. What a relief you are not expected to read the literature they are assigned for in English class (which is uber cool since Othello is not your idea of ‘downtime’ after work).
5. They don’t grow out of their wardrobe every two weeks. Shelling out $20 for the band T-shirt they will wear for two years is an easier pill to swallow than the $20 onesie which fit for less than a month.
6. Physically, they are growing stronger and they know it. Glimpsing your tween’s joy and skill on the football/soccer/baseball field invigorates your soul.
7. Tweens still crave your affection. Which is why every once in a while when they cross the room just to bend and give you a hug, your heart grows three sizes.
8. They are developing a killer sense of humor. The hilarious YouTube video they shared makes you laugh out loud and may even elevate your status to coolest cat in the office.
9. Traveling - especially in the air - is no longer an exercise in mental cruelty. Remember when the threat of an in-flight tantrum driving every passenger on board to the brink of insanity kept your anxiety sky high? Over. Plugged into an iPod or busy with Sudoku spells far less mortification.
10. The diaper bag has vanished. Sippy cups, diaper genies and rectal thermometers are history.
11. Let’s face it, you look more put together these days. Suddenly, you and your spouse dress more fashionably as a matter of their survival.
12. You have a bit more time. Your dream of seeing Europe, taking up golf or reading the classics? It’s possibly within the realm of possibility now.
13. There are less wrestling matches at bath time. And when they’re sick, they may no longer have to be straight-jacketed to get grape-flavored medicine down the hatch.
14. Meaningful discussions spell personal growth. Watching an age-appropriate movie with them now provides an opportunity to discuss meaningful topics - a chance for both of you to grow and connect.
15. This may be your first chance to catch your breath and reflect on their childhood. Finally, there are a few minutes to scrapbook (or print hard copies of digitally stored baby photos!), leading you to fall in love with your tween all over again.
Michele Ranard, M.Ed., has a husband, two children and a master’s in counseling. For more information, visit www.hellolovelyinc.blogspot.com and www.hellolovelychild.blogspot.com.
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