I’m going to begin by saying that I am not a parenting expert. I’m sort of blindly following my kids as they age, and hoping that I’ve done enough to send them out into the world by themselves. My take on the challenges of parenting might not be yours. And that’s okay. I’m fine with how I parent my kids, and I’m fine with you parenting yours however you want. Now that the disclaimer is done, on with the post.
I never knew that preteen was an actual age category. When I was growing up, I was a child, then I was a teenager. There was none of this almost a teenager. Of course, growing up in rural Ireland may have been part of that. So you can imagine my surprise to find two of them in my house.
I woke up one morning, and found myself faced with not one, but two preteens. I left my bedroom, and came across these beings in my hallway. One of each kind. I don’t even know which is worst!
The girl is 12, coming 13, and thinks that she is the first person in the world to use sarcasm. Sometimes, it’s not very good sarcasm, but it’s the thought that counts, right? She has taken to telling me she’s doing things. I am taking your charger. I am taking your shoes (same shoe size as me). I am going to my friends house. I am eating tofu for dinner (we’re not vegetarian, or vegan. There is no tofu in my house. Ever).
She teams these pronouncements, with some sort of semi aggressive, interpretive dance that ends with a pose. One hand on whatever happens to be near her – door handle, wall, etc. – and the other hand does a bit of a jazz hand type move, before ending up on her hip. It certainly appears to be both choreographed, and incredibly well practiced.
My response is laughter. I can’t help it. It’s hilarious. It’s all over the top and dramatic, and genuinely funny. I think the funniest part is that she thinks it will work, but the more I laugh, the more unsure she becomes. So when she repeats herself, it becomes a statement with a bit of a question mark on the end. Like, I am going to my friends house, with a subtext of maybe?
She decided for my birthday that she was going to get me a present. Something I really wanted. She gave me all the things she taken from my room. I was quite confused, but she clarified that she wanted to give me something I wanted, and as I had bought everything in the first place, I clearly wanted it.
The boy is 11, coming 12, and as yet, has shown none of the dramatic flair of his sister. He still asks for things, rather than announce. He still has some of his childhood toys in his bedroom, and I think some of them still get played with. His problem isn’t a change in behaviour. His problem is smell.
I had heard some of my friends with teen boys complain about the smell. They described it as a mix of the worst kind of smelly cheese, old socks, and a school locker room. In my naivete, I didn’t believe them. No such smell exists. How could it? Who could stomach it? And why wouldn’t you simply send the offender to the shower, open a window, and blast half a can of air freshener into the room?
Then it happened to me. It has no source. I’ve decked myself out in some homemade hazmat gear and searched. It has no source. I’ve sent the child to the shower, and the bath. I’ve sent him to my parents house – they have a power shower thing. It doesn’t appear to be him. I’ve opened the window, but the outside doesn’t want this smell. I’ve blasted the air freshener, but it makes no difference.
In the end I had to ask other mums for some help with this one.
Nobody knows where it comes from. Although speculation is rife. The only comfort they could give me is that once he hits a certain age, and realises that girls exist, he will also become aware of the smell. And it will be replaced by the odor of two full cans of deodorant hitting the same body at the one time. So, you know, I have that to look forward to.