Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tweendom arrives - and so far it's all good

It’s something of a cliché for parents to gripe a little bit about the onset of that phase once known as pre-teen years and now more commonly called tweendom. From a chronological perspective, we’re in the thick of it, given that Tim will turn 13 exactly six months from yesterday, and yet from a developmental perspective it feels like we’re just getting our feet wet. Perhaps he was a little bit of a late bloomer.

Holly, meanwhile, may be something of an early bloomer. She too seems like a tween all of a sudden, and she’s only 8 ½.

And yet you’ll hear no griping from me about tweendom. Not today, anyway. To my surprise, I’m finding it entertaining and interesting in ways I never anticipated.

For example, the music. Holly has been downloading songs to her iPod and playing them over the speakers so that she can dance. Her dancing reminds me more of Turkey’s traditional Whirling Dervishes than anything you’d see on MTV, but given her lack of interest in sports, I’m happy any time I see her physically exerting herself, and the dancing definitely meets that criterion. Plus the music is, well, interesting. I can’t say I choose to play it when she’s not around, but it’s still good for me to be exposed to something new. Taio Cruz, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, the Back Street Boys – I mean the New Kids on the Block – I mean Big Time Rush. Yes, that’s it, Big Time Rush. Okay, so they don’t sound so new to me at all. But the other ones add something to my scope of musical awareness, and that’s something from which I can definitely benefit.

Meanwhile, Tim is keeping me amused with his newfound devotion to instant messaging. In the evening, he and a couple of friends get on their computers and tap away. He lets out the occasional chuckle or comments to me about their news: “Mom, Austin just picked out a new baseball glove! Katie is going skiing at Mount Cranmore this weekend!” I always like to hear what other families we know are up to, and this is the first time Tim has appeared to take any interest in what his peers do when they’re not in his presence.

Tim is choosing to get out of the house more, also, which is an advantage. He goes to school dances, Friday Night Live parties, and last weekend a middle school dodgeball tournament. He’s always been such a homebody; when it’s not baseball season, he practically hibernates. I’m happy to witness his newfound animation and willingness to try new experiences, even experiences like dodgeball. And what’s even better is that both kids now take showers without being asked.

Tim will be an actual teen and not just a tween in less than half a year now. We’ll see whether that suits me – and him – as well as tweendom does. Holly, meanwhile, still has years of dancing, loud music and eventually instant-messaging with friends yet to go. Some parents bemoan the end of the early childhood years, but I have the sense that things are getting increasingly interesting around here, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

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