In just a few weeks my youngest child will go from being a tween to being a full-fledged teen. One day he will be a 12 year-old boy and the next, a 13 TEEN year old.
Having gone through this transition with my two older children, I know this change from tween to teen will be very subtle at first. Small changes will occur in his looks and attitude (some of which have already started). Then suddenly, I will look at my once little boy and realize he has morphed into a young man before my very eyes.
What kind of changes am I talking about? Allow me to explain the six signs that your tween is becoming a teen:
What’s the first sign your tween is turning into a teen? You have to wake them up for school or set an alarm. Biological sleep patterns change as tweens become teens and they sleep later. Yes, that same adorable child that once thought 5 am was a good time to start the day, now sleeps into the double digits.
I remember when getting my kids to go to sleep would mean one more story, another glass of water and several trips back to re-tuck them in. Now my son says “Goodnight” or sometimes, “Just go to bed. I’ll put myself to sleep after the game” and if he does need water, he gets it himself. My teen daughters always go to bed later than me, online with friends or doing homework while I doze off. Those same kids who would wake up at the sound of a door closing or phone ringing can now sleep through anything.
Of course, now that my kids sleep late, my own biological sleep pattern has changed and I am wide-awake at 5am many days, unable to stay asleep.
Teens go through growth spurts and seem to grow almost overnight (seriously, they go to bed one size and wake up another – its crazy!) Recently I noticed that some of the sneakers of my son’s friends look like clown shoes – especially when I see them all over my mudroom and not on their feet. I can’t believe these little kids I know wear such big shoes.
The day you call your child over and they are staring at you eye-to-eye is a jarring one. You can’t believe it so you call someone over to measure. Back to back the consensus is you are even. Okay, you can breathe sigh of relief … except for you are no longer growing and they may continue to do so for a few years. While one of my daughters remained my height, the other is now a few inches taller than me. Even now, I still can’t get used to my once “little girl” having to lean down to hug me.
This is a two-part change. Part one is the body odor that occurs. I used to pick up my carpool of four boys from soccer practice and not notice anything except how loud they were. Now when they get in the car, I immediately lower the windows. PU – the sweat of a tween smells very different than that of a teen.
The second part of the change is how they handle the smell. When my son entered middle school last year, he traded in his SpongeBob Bubble Gum body wash and Suave Cowabunga Coconut shampoo for the Axe Anarchy line of bathing products (including deodorant.) Not exactly sure what “anarchy” is supposed to smell like but his hair doesn’t smell quite as “sweet” anymore.
The fine art of eye rolling seems to be mastered in the teen years. And I seem to say more annoying things the older they get, so the eye roll reflex gets a good work out. There is also more back talk. It is hard going from the person that they think knows everything to a person they seem to sometimes think knows very little. But I know a certain amount of rudeness is developmentally appropriate and part of the separation process – just so long as it does not become total disrespect.
When my tween comes home from school he seems very willing and open to sharing almost all the details of his day. But I remember once my girls became teens, they became more secretive. Not so much about the big stuff, but about the little details – especially with friends. I have to remember to walk a fine line between making sure I know what is going on but also respecting their right to privacy on certain matters.
Sleeping in my room was always something the kids begged to do. I usually indulged them when my husband was away on a business trip or there were thunderstorm outside. But I have noticed these requests have dissipated. Still, sometimes my son will rest his head on my shoulder when we are watching television on the couch. It’s not all the time and I am not sure he realizes it. I don’t say anything but I savor these moments. I breathe in the not so sweet smell of anarchy in his hair and am thankful to be spending time with my soon to be teenager.
About Randi Mazzella
Randi Mazzella is a mother three and freelance writer. Her work has been published in many print and online publications including She-Knows, Teen Life, Club Mid and About.com. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter @rmazz90210.