Transition from Little Kid to Teen: What I’ll Miss Most

It hit me as soon as I opened his bedroom door. I was greeted by an unearthly rank odor that smelled like an 80s locker room. Socks, worn during baseball practice, were the culprit(s).

That’s when I knew it was official. My older son was no longer a little kid. Nature had played a cruel trick on me – a metamorphosis to teen had occurred without warning.

Transition from Little Kid to Teen: What I'll Miss MostI felt a bit cheated. I mean, isn’t there an intermediate period called ‘tweenhood’ where one could prepare for what inevitably comes next? It seemed to have skipped my son.  Here he was, all in: the growth spurt, the changing voice, the interest in girls, loss of interest in being with family, and lack of interest in anything “little-kid-related.”

I am proud of who he has become, but it was just yesterday that we were excited about him sitting in the front seat of the car. I look at pictures of him longingly from only a year ago when he was seemingly another person.

Here are some of the things I’ll miss from the little kid stage:

  1. The cuddling and coddling when he’s scared. He used to come to my bed in the middle of the night when he was scared or had a bad dream. Now he seems to be managing just fine without the need for mommy at night.
  2. The “given” that we would be immersed in family activity all weekend long. I was primed every weekend with a full itinerary – from festivals, museums, play dates, and pool time – every moment from my child waking up to the moment he goes to sleep was accounted for and planned, it was just a known fact that he would be an active participant in that activity. Now, most of the activity is taking/picking up to friends’ homes.
  3. Excitement over little kid activity. Whether it was visiting a pumpkin patch or getting on a carnival ride, he used to be thrilled.  He even got excited about finding rare rocks and stones at the nature center. Now unless one of his friends is involved he’d just as well stay home.
  4. Kids meals. At age 12, he’s technically still eligible to get a kids’ meal at a restaurant.  But he hasn’t wanted one for some time – he goes straight for the adult entrees, and sometimes those are not big enough for his appetite.
  5. Affinity with his younger brother. They are four years apart in age, and it’s become more pronounced with my older son hitting puberty so dramatically and seemingly early. Rather than doing activities together, my younger son now sits on the sidelines while my older son only shows interest in being with his buddies.
  6. The sheltered innocence. These days I have to monitor his phone, his conversations, what he watches, what he listens to, and worry about the real-life consequences of him looking like and behaving like a 15-year-old boy.

I am learning to embrace and support my son as he transitions into a teen and finding comfort in speaking to other moms who are experiencing the same things with their own sons.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to seek out meaningful ways of keeping him engaged with his family and continue to support him through all of his changes.

Do you have tweens or teen boys? How have you managed the transition from little kid to teen?

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Dana is a working mom of two active boys, ages 4 and 8. She was born in Tel Aviv and raised in Atlanta. With a background in journalism, she spent 12 years chasing deadlines as a news and documentary producer, writer, international news desk editor, and web editor.  After the birth of her first child, it became obvious she was not going to be the next Katie Couric or Christiane Amanpour. She was still dedicated, but the only thing gained from the grueling weekend and overnight shifts was a case of gastritis. She remembers being "so busy" she could not step away for lunch/dinner/breakfast and would have to shove the food down while hovering over her computer. The disgusting crumbs piling up in the keyboard were hers. As luck would have it, another round of layoffs was near and she seized the opportunity (having survived a few layoffs before). Several months into her severance she was fortunate to find a job in PR and Communications, promoting a subject that felt like a natural fit.   The most important lesson she's learned since becoming a mom is: NEVER say never. "I will NEVER shop at Costco, drive a car with a carpool number, become a 'soccer' mom, live near my parents in a house in the suburbs."  She now does all those things and more she never thought she would with the utmost feeling of gratitude.