I have a son.
That son of mine is growing up.
He is not a baby anymore.
I. am. the. parent. of. a. tween.
I got through the newborn stage, the toddler/preschool stage. The school age stage. With each came new challenges, new obstacles to overcome, new parenting techniques and strategies. But also great joy and a sense of pride at seeing my child grow, learn, and succeed.
This new stage, the "tween years"? By far the most difficult yet. It's a confusing time. A time hard to define exactly because your child is not a baby anymore but not a full blooded teenager yet either.
You get glimpses into the future and you can see where they're headed and what it's sort of going to be like parenting a teenager, but there a times when it is quite clear that your child is still just a child who needs a parent's guidance and help to navigate through the challenges of adolescence.
Case in point: The athlete came home from school on Friday begging to go to the varsity football game later that night. He has never asked to go to a football game before, so me being the intuitive mother that I am knew there was more to it than a new found interest in high school football.
Upon further digging, I discovered that it was going all around the 6th grade that day that "Everyone", was going.
We decided to let him go. We even let him invite a friend. We did however tell him we would only be staying till half time. He was ok with that and just happy to be going. We got to the game and we gave him a couple of strict rules to follow.
1. Stay with your friend
2. Check in with us in one hour.
3. When it's time to go, it's time to go. We don't want any arguments.
He nodded in complete agreement. Or so we thought.
Strike one came after one hour past with no check in from the athlete. We went in search for him and sure enough we found him with his group of friends, running around and joking with them all. We had to call him over and give him a warning about not checking in. His reply, "Sorry, I forgot".
We let it slide and reminded him we were leaving at half time. We told him to meet us at the bleachers when it was time to leave.
Strike two: Half time arrived and after 10 minutes, no appearance from the athlete. Again we went in search for him. This time not so forgiving. The princess found him first and ran up to him telling him it was time to go. He was with a group of girls so he ignored her.
His friend? Not with him but with a group of their soccer friends several yards away.
Strike three. You're out.
The coach walked right into the middle of all those girls, told him to say goodbye NOW took him by the arm and away we went. Utter embarrassment for the athlete. He came to the car after retrieving his friend, and was all annoyed and red in the face. We dropped his friend off and once we were alone in the car we let into him.
No phone, no friends, no next home football game. We reviewed what the specific instructions for the night had been and how the athlete proceeded to NOT follow each and every one of them. Followed up by an explanation about how he constantly wants us to allow him more freedom but he makes it very hard for us and himself. When we give him a little leeway and he doesn't follow the rules it breaks our trust and shows us that he isn't ready yet.
We got no argument after that. That's one thing I will say about him. When he knows he's wrong, he shuts up and accepts whatever consequences we dish out.
What was suppose to be a fun night for all of us ended in disappointment for everyone, except the princess, she was happy as a clam! The athlete went to bed disappointed that he can't go to the next home game. We returned home slightly disappointed and upset that he wouldn't just follow a few simple rules. Now we have to wait some time before we can allow him to spread his wings, even just a little, and watch with pride as he succeeds at this in between stage they call the tween years.
Do you have a tween? How do you get through the day to day challenges?