You were told to cherish the baby years because time goes so fast. Cherish the newborn who will only stop crying if you hold him close to your chest 24 hours a day, cherish the 4 a.m. wake-up call just because, cherish potty training behind a tree in the park and quelling meltdowns in Target because no, you’re not going to the toy section. It was all so hard. But it was worth it. And just like that, in the blink of an eye, your baby is a tween.
If your kid is 10, 11 or 12, they’re in a strange space between little kid and full-blown teen. Tweening is a lot like the terrible twos: You find yourself always negotiating, always saying no, and usually needing a time-out. If any of this is going on in your home, welcome to tweening — and hold on for the ride.
Here’s how you know there’s a tween living in your house.
1. You harp on hygiene
Every morning, you find yourself saying, “Deodorant, both arms! Oh, my God, this isn’t an option. It’s a regime.”
2. You want to throw all their clothes out the window
Your child emerges from their bedroom wearing an outfit that doesn’t match, even though they begged you for specific athletic brand-name sets that come with a coordinated shirt and shorts. Oh, and they apparently don’t “like hoodies anymore” — only because you asked them to grab one because it’s raining.
3. You’ll never buy ice cream again
There’s an entire empty gallon of ice cream with a spoon in it in the freezer. Again.
4. You hear them talking about first crushes
“Alex like-likes me. It’s so annoying. Seriously, Alex is always staring at me and told Sam I have cool hair.”
5. You still have toys to clean up
You’re no longer injuring your bare feet on Legos scattered all over the rug. A win! Instead, you’re wiping down the iPad because the screen is smudged with something you can’t even identify.
6. You are the mom with the good smelly kid
Your child smells like the men’s fragrance section in a department store, because he doesn’t understand that you’re not supposed to shower in Cool Water cologne, even though you explained, “one, two-ish pumps only.”
7. You’re their biggest cheerleader, except you’re not allowed to be
You spend your entire weekend chauffeuring your child to soccer tournaments, and when they do something grand and exciting on the field, you jump up and scream, “YES! WOO-HOO!” only to be met with a death stare. Then on the way home, the drama starts: “Mom, you can’t get all excited like that, OK. I play real soccer. I need to focus. This isn’t rec, OK?”
And you’re left thinking, “OK, Abby freaking Wambach, I get it,” while staying silent and white-knuckling the steering wheel.
8. You can’t say “play” & “date” in the same sentence
“Playdate” is not part of your vocabulary anymore, “because that’s so babyish, Mom!” Instead, your kid wants to “chill,” have a “get-together” or “hang” with their friends — but they still need you to check with their friends’ moms if that’s OK and make pizza bites because they’re hungry.
9. Your child still throws tantrums
Sure, they want independence because they’re not 4 anymore, but five minutes later, it’s freak-out time over the triple-knotted soccer cleat.
10. But… they could make you a millionaire
Their homemade music videos are so hysterically good, you find yourself daydreaming about how to leverage them for money. Hmmm.
11. You wish they’d just order a Happy Meal again
But your child just ordered a $40 steak medium rare and freaking truffle fries.
12. You get really emotional… over homework
You’re crying over the math homework while they’re screaming how it’s impossible a 40-year-old can’t do fifth-grade math. You tearfully remind your kid that you are 37 and to just carry the one over, just carry the one over. You don’t know what a number line is. You don’t care. You thrust your iPhone into your kid’s hand. “Just use the calculator app.”
Do you relate? Don’t worry. We tween parents are all in this together. And the good news is they are only tweens for approximately three years. Then we get to deal with teenagers, driving, SAT scores, prom and broken hearts. And after that, plenty of us will be sappy puddles of love when we leave them at their college dorm rooms. So let’s just do our best to enjoy the tween years while we can, shall we?