Updated: Mar 9
Happy New Year!! (I know, super late to the game.)
2019 wrapped up quickly. Holiday excitement has come and gone.
Now we're in mid-January, embracing the new year and conquering our personal promises.
I took a bit of a pause from writing late last year (sorry for the lack of consistency).
The truth is...something changed within our family unit, and I think I've finally come to a place where I'm ready to share with the world.
Here it is...my eldest son is growing up.
I'm talking pre-teen growing up, two years before he's even a teen 🤷.
Yes, YES, yes, I know...I knew this was coming.
You see, the idea of Sunsets with Kids started with our LOVE for the outdoors and fascinations of exploring, together. Its very idea was built upon my boys participating in all of our outdoor activities, without hesitation or a bribe.
So what's the big deal you ask?
I love share my experiences, because somewhere in the world, a parent is going through the SAME EXACT THING, and we can finally validate, together, that we're not crazy.
Regardless of color, race or food one eats, every child goes through this phase.
Shifts in our day-to-day activities required serious adjustments and periods of reflecting the true value of keeping Sunsets with Kids going.
Through this phase, I was forced to jump out of denial phase and learn to ride the waves. Even though I don't know how to swim in this game called "pre-teen".
With that, here are 10 signs, through my experience, that indicate your baby is becoming a pre-teen.
1. NO LONGER INTERESTED IN SIMPLE JOYS
It seriously feels like just yesterday when my boys and I could spend hours discovering new creative parks, all over Southern California. We loved the simplicity of just running around, throwing a ball and creating obstacle courses.
One day in the late summer of 2019, I thought I'd treat the boys with a trip to the park after I arrived from work. We loaded up, grabbed a football, and off we went. We get out of the car, walk towards the entrance and the first thing my 10 year old says, "When are we going to go home!?"
WAIT WHATTTTTTTTTTTTTT? Who is this child? What happened to my happy little son?
Totally thrown off by this new behavior, disappointed and questioned what it meant.
He was so disinterested and I knew at that very moment that the shift was starting.
Photo below from late last year - clearly he was not a fan of taking one for the team.
2. THEY ISOLATE THEMSELVES
My son suddenly began to hide in his room when the family was out in the living room doing "together" type things. He'd want nothing to do with his 7-year old brother. Easily annoyed by anything and everything.
Interestingly, this behavior showed face for a little bit, then soon he came out of hiding and went back to regular scheduled family time programming.
3. SASS, FOOT STOMPS OR EYE ROLLING BEGIN
Let's be clear - my son doesn't eye roll, but I've seen this behavior in some of my nieces in the same age.
Little asks will suddenly become earth shattering requests.
"TJ, can you plug in the vacuum?"
"Can you please pick up your trash."
"Go put on your socks please."
You'd think I was asking him to transfer 32,000 tons of dirt into a back of a truck.
All of these little things suddenly trigger what I like to call "the tude." (short for attitude)
4. INTERESTED IN NEW THINGS
No explanation needed, their curiosity just flowers to new heights. Whether it's different sports, instruments, Japanese anime or Pokemon cards, they suddenly show interest in different things.
Survival tip: keep discovering and learning with them - it helps to keep you both engaged with one another. Those similarities are crucial to you staying close. For example, my son and I like to mountain bike together. It's our jam. It keeps us in sync, sometimes.
5. THEY NEED FRIENDS.
Maybe we were lucky because my kids have each other to spend time with, but there came a moment where it was apparent that they needed friends outside of our home-bubble.
Actually, his little brother easily becomes a nuisance, throughout the day. It's time for new friends.
This week, I've stepped outside of my comfort zone, allowing him to go on birthday experiences with good friends from school. Also something incredibly new is letting him take his bike around the neighborhood (mind you, we have no side walks). This was a BIG leap for me, but I knew that I didn't want to fester fear of predators lurking everywhere. The truth is, they do exist, but it's our responsibility to educate them on what to do if danger rears its ugly head.
6. MATURITY, RESPONSIBILITY KICKS IN
After years and years of what felt like unheard asks of "please make sure you bring your jacket back home", "make sure you take care of your homework paper" or "please wipe up your toilet seat when you're done," I think we've finally hit a milestone.
My son quickly became responsible for different things. For example, God bless our family, school assignments and paperwork that required a signature. Gone are the days I have to ask eight times if there's anything I need to sign or see.
You'll be AMAZED how a puffy FIVE STAR type zipped folder can assist the mindset of a young man. Strongly recommend it!
Somehow, through this chapter, my son took a strong interest in organization in school. Credit is due to his strict 5th grade teacher for being a tremendous help in forming these new habits. He is now surprisingly inclined to be ON TOP of his daily homework submissions.
7. BIRDS AND BEES - EARLY SIGNS IT'S TIME TO TALK
Unfortunately, my son had a preliminary conversation with a family friend that caused me to swoop in and educate earlier than I would have liked. Without sharing additional detail, I was faced with a decision.
A) let him discover how, what and why we're attracted to other people + how babies are made on his own/through friends/the internet (ugh)
B) be a responsible parent and share the truth.
I went with B. It wasn't easy for both of us, but now I know I did the right thing.
8. THEY FROWN A LOT, BUT IT DOES NOT MEAN THEY'RE UNHAPPY
Sometimes, they just don't care to show expressions even when they're feeling happy. There's nothing wrong with this, all a part of discovering who they really are.
Accept the sappiness, and let's bow our heads in prayer that this phase will end soon.
9. THEY NEED THEIR OWN SPACE
95% of my childhood, I shared a room with one of my sisters. We didn't have the space nor the option to have our own room. If we did, I understand now why our own room is necessary.
As I watch my child go from 11 to almost 12, homeboy NEEDS his own space. He's curious, has his own hobbies and needs to create his own boundaries. Besides, when he is with his sibling, they drive each other absolutely CRAZY. Save yourself the white hair.
This year, we gave our eldest the privilege of having his own space and it's amazing to see the battles lessen.
Note: sibling rivalry is a real thing and doesn't seem to end.
10. THEY ACT LIKE THEY DON'T LIKE HUGS, BUT THEY REALLY DO.
Regardless of the transition into pre-teen life, I know for a fact that my son still loves mom-hugs. He's admitted it to me, shamelessly. Shower them with as many cuddles as you can possibly squeeze in, who knows when it's going to end.
For the record, I did vet this article by my child and requested permission before posting. He smiled, questioned some of my comments, but ultimately validated it all. His only comment, "Mom, I do not eye roll."
Hope you, too, will find the inner patience to ride through the pre-teen phase. Give and receive all the hugs you can possibly give. Let's share our hurdles, build our communities and get through it, together.
Your fellow mom friend,
also trying to figure out how to raise a pre-teenager.