Tucker is 16 now. He is a teen. A full blown teen with all the angst, attitude, and absolute knowledge of pretty much everything that comes with the teen years. Some days I look at him and wonder, “When did this happen? How did it all go so damned fast?” It wasn’t that long ago that he believed I could do anything, that I knew everything. It wasn’t that long ago he had soft baby cheeks. He used to laugh and make silly jokes. He used to play with toys, help me cook, and hang out with me. Where the heck did the time go?
Babyhood comes and we blink a few very exhausted times and all of a sudden our little ones are toddlers. One day they flop on the couch next to you and you realize their cheeks aren’t as chubby anymore and their feet aren’t kissable soft. Just like that their not your little toddler anymore. Before we are even ready they want social media accounts and are worried about what’s “cool.” Childhood melts into the tweens and then suddenly you have a full blown case of teenager rummaging through your refrigerator and stinking up your house.
Just like that. One day you’re hunting for lost pacifers, scrubbing rotten bottles that rolled under the crib, and staring at them lovingly, marveling at how peaceful they sleep. And then, BAM, you’re hunting for lost school books, scrubbing rotten dishes that somehow got kicked under their bed, and staring at them marveling at how damned much they can eat. Time goes by, things may not seem to change but if you don’t watch for the signs your baby boy might become a teen without you even realizing.
Tucker isn’t my baby boy anymore. Sure there are occasional glimmers of the boy that once was, but the fact is more often than not my baby is a TEEN and he is most certainly (at least right now) not my baby boy anymore. How did we get here? It might feel like he just woke up one day with attitude, angst, and an uncanny ability to mumble at just the right decibel that I am not absolutely positive he just said what I thought he did. But, in retrospect there were sign that we were marching towards the end of childhood. So to you, Mothers of little boys, be forewarned and be ready; for these are the signs that the end is near:
- Axe Body Spray: Ya, this stuff. Before anyone jumps up and says they like the smell of this stuff, don’t bother defending it; not, until you have a son who uses it. It starts out a great idea. Suddenly your child stinks a little, okay they stink a lot. You buy them deodorant and they don’t use it. But, they tell you they would love one of those Axe kits, of shampoo and body wash and deodorant and spray and you think, “Whatever it takes to make you not stink, bud”. Then you give them the kit. And, they drown themselves in so much of the spray that your eyes still burn a half hour after they leave the house. And you can smell when your child gets off the bus down the street. This is a SIGN, the ANGST is COMING.
- You Stop Stepping on Legos: There is a moment in parenthood (generally after the 10th time you have stepped on a Lego and tried to hold in a string of expletives) that we realize our children all have the capability to be that boy from Home Alone. Then, suddenly, there aren’t Legos laying in random locations just waiting for you to stumble into their path of pain. Sure, you still vacuum one up here and there, but not like before. Why? Because, even though your boy has no interest in getting rid of nor giving away the toys that once gave him so much joy, he isn’t playing with them anymore either. Yes, the ATTITUDE is COMING. (this does not mean his room will be cleaner, it will just be messy in different ways.)
- Cereal, Poptarts, and Frozen Pizzas, Oh My: As your precious little boy barrels ahead to he tween and teen years there is one sign that you are sure to notice: the size of your grocery bill! It wasn’t that my son’s tastes changed it was that suddenly he would devour whole boxes of cereal. I would open the freezer to grab something and realize that someone had ate a case of Hot Pockets I had bought 2 days ago. And beverages, it doesn’t matter how much juice, soda, milk, or whatever you buy. You will open your fridge within 36 hours to nothing to drink. There is a reason parents joke about how much teen boys eat, because we have to joke to deal with the pain from our skyrocketing grocery expenses. (ps around the time your food starts disappearing, so will your plates, cups, spoons, and forks, double hint look for your dishes under their bed, but be prepared for the gross) This is a SIGN, the MUMBLING is coming.
- To the Mall!: Remember when your child wanted to go to the store with you because they might get a toy or a treat? And, remember how very little they cared about going clothes shopping with you? Well, suddenly your child will want to go clothes shopping with you for school. Okay, that’s a lie, they don’t want to go with you, they just want to make sure you don’t buy any embarrassing clothes. They will not be happy to be there, they just suddenly have clothes standards and they just know you, “Don’t get it”. You might be tempted to avoid this by just giving your kid some cash and sending them to get what they want. Do not do this. This is how you end up with a snake instead of 2 new pairs of jeans. I’m sorry Mama, this is a sign, the ANGST is coming.
- It Puts the Lotion in the Basket: I don’t have brothers, and, for a long time it was just me and my son. In other words, while I mostly understand boys and boy-adolescence I don’t (or didn’t) really know what I was in for. I am not really a lotion user. But, there is always 3-5 bottles of lotion around the house for some random reason. THEN, came a mystery it took me a little longer than it should have to figure out. Suddenly lotion bottles were empty. And I was thoroughly befuddled. Where the heck was all the lotion going? Who is using the lotion? I am sure you can guess where the lotion was going. I don’t want to talk about it, I don’t even want to think about it, and he is 16 now. This is a sign, it is over Mama, the ANGST, the ATTITUDE, and the MUMBLING are here.
I want to tell you that your baby boy is going to warn you that your time of snuggles and smiles is coming to an end. I want to tell you that you won’t wake up one day and suddenly he will be an eye rolling, mumbling, stinky, jerk who is certain he officially knows more than you and is way cooler than you. But, I am not going to lie to you. It will happen, and you won’t feel like you had any warning.
I can tell you that after a little while, that little boy, the one that was your baby, reappears. Once in a blue moon he will do some sweet thing, like yard work, for no reason, without prompting. He will, occasionally, actually listen to your advice and respond back with questions and concerns. Periodically he will surface from his room and sit and watch a movie with you. He will play with his sibling, sometimes. Every so often he will respond to your questions about school, or his friends, or a girl with more than a one word answer. EVERY SO OFTEN. So hold onto your sanity and brace yourself, your little boy is going to become a teen. Mamas, the angst is coming!