Enter the Tweens

My little Monkey is not so little anymore. He turned 11 this week and is proudly announcing to all who will listed that he is now a tween. To be honest, the tween attitude started about 6 months ago, but I’m not telling him that.

Mini Me is 14 now and he outgrew me about 4 months ago, which is not that insignificant since I’m 5’8″ when I stand up straight. His teen years came with hours locked in his room and deep sighs when we ask him to do anything. They also came with a stubborn refusal to wear anything but sweat pants and t-shirts or to do anything with his hair. That I can live with. The lack of showering on the other hand… His friends are all the same so I just shrug and roll with it.

Monkey is going to be a very different kind of teen, I can tell already. The last week I have been enlisted every morning to put a bright green streak through the front of his hair – which, I may add, hasn’t been cut in about 5 months. He’s going to be one of those scraggly haired kids who experiments with crazy dye jobs and develops a distinct and unique sense of fashion. He also still loves to bathe so I’m calling that a win.

As different as they both are, I love this time in my parenting career. I see my friends with really young kids and I do not feel at all wistful. I love being able to pick up and just go anywhere with them. I love that they have the freedom to make their own arrangements with their friends and that my house is becoming the hang out hub. I laugh with the cashier at the grocery store about the amount of milk and number of chip bags in my cart. I can just shrug and say “teens” and they laugh knowingly.

They have important opinions now and we can talk about the world. Mini Me brings home ideas that they discuss in class – much deeper stuff than we were dealing with in grade 8, let me tell you. Racism, slavery, misogyny, homophobia. I love to see his brain wrap around ideas of social justice and acceptance in a deeper, more philosophical way than when he was younger. He sees the shades of grey now and it’s inspiring.

Monkey has just joined the Anti-Trump Alliance at school. Not an official organization, of course, but a little society created by two of the Muslim students in the school yard where apparently they talk about the evils of the Orange Menace. I guess with about a 50% Muslim school population, and a good majority of the rest coming from pretty left leaning households, the Trump issue comes up a lot. Monkey fulfilled his membership pledge by naming 10 things he didn’t like about Trump – in writing – and them generously designed their club logo. I am loving it.

My biggest regret about these years? How quickly they seem to go by. I know that everybody tells young parents that the baby years seem endless but that they really go by in the blink of an eye. No way. Those baby years WERE endless. I still have back problems from dragging my boys around and not for one minute do I lament about changing another diaper. It seemed like I had young kids for AGES with all their tantrums and toys everywhere and no sleep.

But these years, with all their independence and interesting thoughts and doing chores and easy outings – these years are flying by. And maybe it’s because I realize that we are in the final stretch. Mini Me starts high school in the fall and that’s only 4 years away from University and potentially moving out. Monkey only has one year left in the school that has been a second home this family for so very long.

Realistically, I know that they probably won’t be gone when they finish high school. Living in Toronto and taking into account the number of amazing colleges and universities here,  the chances of them doing post-secondary here are huge. But they MIGHT move away. And they may never move back. When I think of that, my gut clenches. Forget babies. Can’t they just stay tweens and teens forever?

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Not So Little Anymore

My Monkey turned 10 in May and with that came the realization that I’m not the mum of young kids anymore… and I love it. It’s a different stage in my life and my family’s life and I have to say that I am rocking it so far.

With Mini Me being 13, there is a whole different level of responsibility he has taken on. He’s off right now walking his brother to the local pool for swimming lessons where he will wait around for the half hour and then walk him back. I don’t have to go. I am, in fact, sitting in my PJs having a coffee and writing instead. What? It’s pure luxury.

Of course, I’m paying Mini Me to do it but it’s worth every penny. He wants his own computer. I want quiet mornings for the 9 days the class goes on. It’s a win win.

I think Muppet and I have come to the realization of this new stage in life slowly. Sure, Monkey has been walking himself home from for a while now and yes, Mini Me is in grade 7, but sometimes it’s difficult to see what’s right in front of you.

We started slowly with leaving them home while we went shopping. Nobody wanted to come with us, so we wandered off on our own. There was a stop at Starbucks and a leisurely stroll through Home Depot. Exciting, I know.

Then came a date night. Sure, we were home before bedtime but we went to a restaurant, had a nice meal, and then even snuck off for gelato afterwards. Monkey chastised us when we got home for being out so late (9:30pm) but it was totally worth it.

As we were strolling along between dinner and desert, we ran into 3 families who were out with their kids and they all joked about out child-free state but I could see that look of longing in their eyes. We just smiled and kept walking, hand in hand.

When I meet new people and they ask if I have kids, I no longer hear the “oh, they’re still little” or “you must have your hands full” refrains. Now I get the sympathetic head shake for parenting teens and tweens.

I know that I’m probably in a golden time before Mini Me actively starts pursuing girls and where Monkey is still a mixture of childish and surprisingly mature. Nobody is dating or yelling “I hate you” yet. They’re happy for us to go off on our own as long as we still have some family game or movie nights and dinner is still on the table. But, you know what, I’m loving every minute of it.