I've just returned from a house with "tweens" and I am finding new happiness in the big issues my kids are facing at ages 5 and 3. Let's just say I am no longer annoyed with dealing with potty training or temper tantrums. I don't mind that my 3 year old speaks broken English and my 5 year old doesn't always conjugate his verbs correctly. And I have a new appreciation when I hear that both my kids think I am the prettiest girl in the world and want to marry me when they grow up. What lies ahead in the Land of Tweens is so much harder to deal with.
We just got back from visiting my husband's sister and her family in California. We spent a good deal of time with our niece, who is almost 12, and our 9 year old nephew. The language of a tween is somewhat funny, but after a few days I was wanting to lock my kids in a closet until they are 20. My nephew was constantly referring to his "mad skills" for everything he was doing, which was either playing a video game or bouncing / throwing / kicking a ball in the house. And when he wasn't cheering about his own "skilleage", he was shouting about how "awesome" everything else was. My niece overused the word "dude" and that is an understatement. And, it seems she has a different dialect from her brother where every sentence must start with either "Oh my God" or "like"; and sometimes with both. Every sentence out of her mouth was said with a certain fast tempo and intonation made famous in 1983 somewhere in the San Fernando Valley. I had to keep reminding myself that it is in fact 2009 and we were actually in Northern California, not Southern California.
But the trouble with tweens does not stop with the language barrier. No, there are many other reasons to want this transition phase to be far, far away or maybe even nonexistent. Over dinner without the kids, my sister-in-law filled me in on what is stressing her lately. Apparently she is now dealing with her tweenage girl at parties playing "Truth or Dare" and wanting to pair up to go to the movies without adult supervision. So far, my sister-in-law has been keeping a short leash on her daughter. At first I kind of laughed to myself that my sister-in-law was overreacting. Who hasn't played "Truth or Dare" or some version of "Spin the Bottle" in middle school? I know I was going to parties and the movies with boys in middle school and it was all innocent stuff.
But then my sister-in-law filled me in on the "Lipstick Party". If you don't know what this is, stop now and go look it up. I don't want to be the one to break the news to you of what is to come for your kids when they are the tender age of 11, but needless to say it is a little more advanced than what I was expecting for this age group. Oprah exposed Lipstick Parties, also known as "Rainbow Parties" awhile back, but I missed that show. And since I never went to a party when I was 11 where boys were collecting lipstick marks on a certain part of their anatomy, this bit of information was a little startling to me. And no, it is not a myth. My sister-in-law does not watch Oprah either and she was well versed on this topic. I actually consider my sister-in-law to be pretty socially naive, so I fully believe that if she is aware of this, it is happening.
So with that shocking lesson on what today's tweens are up to, I left dinner that evening wanting to go home and freeze my kids at the age they are now - forget just putting them in a closet until they are past their teens. I am so not ready for this. And how terrifying to think that my son will be 6 soon. I only have 5 more years to try to figure this all out. And I should probably be prepared well before then. So, as I keep this troubling revelation on the back burner to simmer, I am going to embrace my 5 year old's afternoon meltdowns when he needs a nap and lack of independence with brushing his teeth or combing his hair. He cannot grow up slow enough.