We have entered those marvelous tween/preteen years at our house.
You think I’m joking. About the “marvelous” part. I’m not.
Okay, truth be told, not all of it is marvelous. In fact some days are decidedly Not Marvelous. Some days are more like eat or be eaten.
But there is a sea change here, and I am glad to see it.
We’re in that in-between stage where Spawn still thinks of the opposite sex as Just People, without any romantic notions. Where a fart joke is still the height of comedy. Where Mom and Dad, mostly, are still okay to be seen with. Mostly. We’re standing on the precipice of raging hormones, and the kid is starting to really gel, personality-wise, and so far I like who I’m seeing emerge from the little-kid cocoon.
Could we stand with a little more personal hygiene? Yes. Could we do without the heavy sighing and eye-rolling? Most certainly. But a switch has been flipped in the kid’s brain and we’re having some really great conversations.
In the car, coming home from a late evening run to the local DQ, Spawn starts telling me about some show where somebody “goes commando” meaning, in all innocence, that someone is kicking some major butt.
Me: Hey, kiddo, I just want you to know something. There’s another meaning to the word commando, so you might want to be careful how you use it.
Spawn: What’s the other meaning?
Me: It means to go without underwear.
Me: I just wanted you to be aware of that.
Spawn: Wait until I tell (my BFF) M! (laughter again)
I can distinctly remember back about the time I was Spawn’s age, and I used the word “horny” in conversation – having some idea, yes, of the more adult meaning of the word – and my mother delivering a huge lecture on the use of the word. Never one to mince words, my mother pounced on me: “DO you know what that word means? It means…” And then I was properly grossed out and embarrassed and I clammed up and never spoke another word in front of my mother that I hadn’t carefully considered the definition of. Because I was one of those kids who read the thesaurus for fun, and I had a pretty good-sized vocabulary. And even today I will double-check the dictionary before I use a word in my correspondence or writing. Because I don’t ever want to feel that sense of stupidity again.
So yeah, I think I handled the whole “do you know what that word means” discussion pretty well, at least this time.
I’m 45 years old, and I still choose my words carefully in front of my mother. She’s pretty prim and proper, and as she ages, she gets more so. I don’t want Spawn to have that same reluctance to have a real conversation with me.
I’m a firm believer that 95% of how you feel about things is due to the way they’re presented to you. I’m working really hard to be a go-to person for Spawn, which is not something my mother was for me. It’s one of those conscious decisions a person makes about parenting.
Some days I feel like I’m doing something right.