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My Kid is Changing and It’s Weirding Us Both Out

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Parenting an older kid is as awesome as it is awkward. While I always knew the day would come when Boy Wonder would begin his descent into preadolescence, I guess I didn’t expect it to happen so soon.

It seems like only yesterday I was reading Thomas the Tank Engine books to him while he practiced sight words and snuggled into that sweet spot just under my open arm. We’d make up silly songs and he’d try to surprise me in the most obvious ways. He was such precious little thing until one day, he just changed.

I realize I’m making it sound as though he changed overnight. Well, he did and he didn’t if that makes any sense. While the change came about gradually, it’s hard as a mom to re-imagine the person he’s on the verge of becoming.

Boy Wonder will begin the 5th grade and turn 10 years old this fall. How we’re nearing double digit status is beyond me. As he begins his prepubescent journey, I feel compelled to share the things that surprised me most:

Understanding innuendo: My husband is quite possibly the king of sexual innuendo (lucky me). The horny 15-year-old inside of him cannot help but utter sexual innuendo at every possible (and often inappropriate) opportunity. The day Boy Wonder “got” the sexual innuendo my husband was dishing, we stopped, stared at each other in panic, and went about our business like it never happened. Whoa there, let’s sweep that thing right under the rug where it belongs! I blame Cartoon Network.

Caught between boy and man: Before I really saw the physical changes happening to Boy Wonder, I smelled them. Holy body odor! I equipped him with deodorant, and while we bonded at Walmart over the wonder of puberty he begged for Axe Body Spray, because of course. Physicalities aside, I can sense his internal tug-of-war between wanting to be a mature tween and the familiar draw of Legos and Transformers. Decisions, decisions.

Mr. Moody: Some days he’s happy, some days he’s not, some days I swear he’s on his period. I never know which personality I’ll find stumbling down the stairs each morning. I’m learning to deal with it, more out of defeat than understanding.

Less talkative: Whether it’s his introversion, propensity toward all things emo, preadolescence or a lethal combination of all three, sometimes he just doesn’t want to talk about it. I used to try to drag stuff out of him, because nagging is such an effective way to show how much one cares. Now I just tell him I understand and when he’s ready to talk (please be ready), I’ll be there. Repeat to self: “It’s not personal. It’s not personal.”

Weird in front of girls: Enter the hallmark of puberty. Boy Wonder’s always played with girls and thought nothing of it, only suddenly it’s the biggest, most uncomfortable situation for him ever. Lately he can’t even watch married couples kiss in the most G-rated fashion on television. He literally covers his eyes. Obviously in time, he’ll sort out all that discomfort and channel his energy into trying to unscramble Showtime After Dark but until then, he’s going the shy route.

It’s weirdly wonderful and wildly bittersweet to watch my boy take the next step in his development. I’m excited, terrified, and amazed for what this next chapter in his life will bring. As unprepared as I feel, I haven’t known what the hell I was doing up to this point and dammit if this kid isn’t awesome.

Is your kid on the edge of puberty?

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My Introverted Child: A Journey to Understanding

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