The last time I lived with an 11 year old boy, I was 15 and the boy was my little brother. He was mildly annoying. Now the 11 year old is my son. There’s nothing mild about living with him! It’s fair to say I am finding the tween years very similar to the toddler years so far. There’s a lot of tantrums and mood swings. He’s either the sweetest kid and funny and kind, or he’s all huffs, grunts and eye rolls. If you are already the parent of a tween you may well recognise these signs that you live with a tween.
1 Strange noises
My tween grunts a lot. And sighs. Although it’s more of a huff than a sigh. It’s very loud. It holds a lot of intent. And it is heard frequently. Sometimes you only have to say his name and he huffs! There is also a lot of muttering under his breath. I can’t make out what he’s saying, but I’m pretty sure I’ve heard the word “slave” once when I asked him to take the glass bottles out to the recycling. Other noises heard frequently when you live with a tween are door slamming and a lot of “It’s not fair”. If eye rolls were audible they would be deafening.
It’s cool to see your kid forming their own opinions of the world around them. It gives me hope for the future when I see the world through his eyes and there is no discrimination. However, you soon learn that as a parent of a tween your opinion counts for nothing. You are old and out of touch. If you say ice cream is the best food on the planet, they would say it’s the worst. They would even rank sprouts above it. That’s how uncool you now are. Now, if one of their friends says that ice cream is the best food on the planet, then it is the best food on the planet.
3 New vocabulary
When you live with a tween you can find yourself having to learn a whole new language. Right now things are either “sweat” (this is good) or “cringe”. Suddenly he calls all his mates “bruh” and from what I have fathomed from trying to read text messages, tween have just stopped using vowels.
4 Strong sense of style
Because you are totally uncool and your opinion doesn’t count, your tween suddenly starts picking their own clothes. Tween girls suddenly dislike anything pink or they refuse to wear dresses or skirts. Some tweens live in football kit, some get into branded clothes. Mine? Mine has a penchant for camo print. That is head to toe camo print. Trousers, t-shirt, hoody, even his trainers. And of course it’s “totally cringe” if any grown ups joke about not being able to see him.
Now you can fight against this, but my advice would be to pick your battles. Just take lots of photos (sneakily of course because tweens will not let you take a photo of them if you ask) and in 10 years time you will be able to embarrass the hell out of them.
5 Gross smells
It’s only natural that as they start puberty their bodies change and they sweat more. At first it’s quite subtle. You may notice that after they have been running around there is a slight whiff. Before long you find yourself opening their bedroom door wearing a gas mask and armed with a can of oust. I think this one may apply more to boys. Five year old me was right. Boys are smelly.
6 Mood swings
A tween can go from happy to meltdown in 0.3 seconds. Quite often triggered by a younger sibling doing something mildly annoying that in no way warrants the response. Tweens spend a lot of their time storming off (huffing and muttering as they go) leaving you wondering why, then coming back 10 minutes later as if nothing happened. Parents who live with a tween spend a lot of time confused. They also use the word ‘attitude’ a lot.
Living with a tween involves a lot of arguments. Especially if you say no to a request. I like to think I am a reasonable parent. I listen to their requests, and if I do say no, I explain my reasons. However a tween doesn’t care for your reasons.
I have long given up with arguments over things like coats. Yes, we’ve reached the stage where coats are totally uncool. We compromise and she shoves it in his bag so if it rains I am not a terrible parent. But if he wants to freeze on his way to school, then so be it. Because I can’t be bothered to argue with a kid telling me it’s not cold when it’s one degree outside. There are many more arguments that I have to navigate my way through. I am very strategically picking my battles, and when to enter negotiations. So when it comes to “Can I watch Reservoir Dogs?” it’s a hard no.
8 The death stare
I don’t know how and when they master this one. Do they get pulled aside at school and taught how to do it? Chances are if you live with a tween then you have been on the receiving end of a few death stares that make our mum ‘look’ look positively friendly.
9 Too cool for school
You may look back fondly on the memories of the two of you curled up watching Charlie & Lola together, or how he used to get all his Disney cars out and play along to the film. However he will now think this is totally lame and can barely comprehend how uncool he used to be. Tweens take an instant dislike to anything that may appear to make them seem young or childlike. You may find yourself sneaking the once much loved teddy bear that is now dead to them, out of the charity pile and hoarding it in your box of ‘never leaving the house, this will stay with me forever, taking it to the grave’ box.
Tweens suddenly develop a fierce sense of privacy. You are not allowed to enter their room without knocking, despite the fact that they will still quite happily come in the bathroom whilst you are sat on the toilet to tell you something totally cool about Mine Craft.
As a parent you can feel a bit lost when they start walking to and from school by themselves and you leave them home alone for brief periods whilst you pop to the shops. It’s a whole new stage of parenting that takes some getting used to. Living with a tween is a lot like living with a newborn. You have no clue what you are doing and are mostly winging it.
11 New skills
One of the great things about having a tween is they start to become more capable. They can do more chores and make you cups of tea. Although learning these new skills requires you as a parent to be patient. Remember those days where your toddler was learning to dress themselves? It took forever. Watching my son peeling carrots yesterday, like it was the first time he had ever used his hands for anything, I did find myself questioning whether he should be walking home by himself.
I think it’s because tweens are all arms and legs. But tweens are clumsy. And stupidly clumsy. Like shaking the ketchup without the lid on. Or goofing around and flinging their arms open and sending their glass flying off the table. And of course, It wasn’t their fault. It was the glass’s fault.
The nickname you have called them for the last 11 years is suddenly the most “cringe” thing you do. It’s up there with kissing your partner in front of them. A tween does nothing to hide their disdain. There are now certain rules you have to follow in public, especially if their mates are around. (Side note, mates is another cringe word I’m not supposed to say. I have no idea why).
It will take every fibre of your being to refrain from reminding them of how embarrassing they were. Like the time they pulled down their pants and squatted to do a poo in the cheese aisle in Sainsburys. Or the time they had a very loud meltdown in the library. Or they time the honked your boobs in toddler group. But no, none of that could possibly more embarrassing than you calling them ‘dude’.
When you live with a tween you catch glimpses of the child they used to be, glimpses of the awesome adolescent they are becoming, and the great fiery ball of emotions that is this inbetweeny bit. They are basically a walking Venn diagram!
Living with a tween definitely keeps you on your toes! Although I am in awe of parents who are living with tweens and toddlers. Those parents really need a hug.
These are affiliate links, I bought the boys one and it is great. Speaks to the kids at their level, and covers everything from changing bodies and feelings, to hygiene!
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