All moms should be divas...this one just happens to be in Jersey!

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Schizophrenia of the American Tween

I don't remember ever being referred to as a tween. I think it's a marketing term that emerged when kids started growing up at hyper speed. When I was a kid we were allowed to play flashlight tag and run around and (GASP!) have actual free time instead of highly choreographed afternoon schedules. Now the term is everywhere, and it really is amazingly accurate. These kids are straddling two developmental groups. There are some easy signs aside from the number of candles on a cake to tip you off. I'm watching my "little" one, 11 yr old Son2 enter the phase and it is like watching Jekyll and Hyde, were Hyde like 4.5' tall. The tastes of the age group are truly schizophrenic, flaunting the confusion that lies in the divide between childhood and adulthood.

These poor kids are so heavily marketed to (Abercrombie push-up bikini, girls size 10 anyone?) that there is pressure on them we never faced to grow up fast. Son2 always seems to be hurtling into teen years too soon, overstimulated and confused, and then left reeling back to childhood comfort. We hear classic assertions like, "I'm in 5th grade. I'm a man now." And then he cuddles up to his stuffed German Shephard that "just happens" to show up on the bed.

On the off chance you're living in denial that this age is upon your (not so) little one, or in the event you'll soon be visiting with a family member who up until two months ago was fine with Scooby Doo pajamas,  I've put together some warning signs/shopping tips for you to face tween-dom in all its glory.

At the movies:
Within the same month, you'll be asked to see the cinematic triumphs "Hop" and "Prom." The King's Speech they are not. Moving along....

Night time entertainment:
Make sure you have MTV blocked, and prepare for full on tantrum that you are the most evil person ever for not allowing Jersey Shore as bedtime viewing. As the crying subsides, you then be transported back to childhood and asked to read Shel Silverstein.

Being alone:
Your child will beg you to go to sleepaway camp, yet not want to be sent upstairs alone without every light imaginable turned on. We started calling Son2 Garbo, with his moody "I want to be alone" brood up to his bedroom. But then he gets up there and just shouts down the stairs to us. He's bored to tears being by himself, but in his mind, shaped by countless hours of Disney Channel & Nick shows, kids hang out alone without their parents. God help me if he tries a webshow like iCarly.

Family Guy will pop up on your TV, in the same 24 hour span as Tom & Jerry. Did you ever listen to Family Guy? It's funny, but proof "cartoon" does not = "kid show."

This one is boy related only, since this is my only frame of reference. I've noticed that my son went from soccer printed Old Navy briefs or underwear with spaceships and dinosaurs on to manly-man looking boxer briefs. They are preferrably solid color so they do not look to "stupid little kid stuff." (his words) Son1, being a whopping 13, and into the American Eagle/ Aeropostale/ Hollister/They-all-look -so-friggin'-the-same attire now whines for boxers with space ships, dinosaurs, and sports prints.  (huh?) Apparently, once a teen and emulating what you think guys dress like, cute prints are ironic or hipster. But when you are a tween trying to dress like what you think a teen would, there is no place for hipster sartorial irony. Shoot me now.

So these are my big highlights this week from the Land of the Tween. I would love to hear the girl-family perspective as I'm sure there is fodder galore. I've been told the hormones already start creeping in with girls in tween years too. Boys have hormones and mood swings, but not on par I don't think. Well at least not on par with my own mood swings but I digress really. From Son1 at 12 while singing Eminem while wearring his Darth Vader costume to Son2 assuring me he could ride to QuikCheck alone just before asking for a bedtime story, I always get a chuckle out of the attempts to be so very grown up while still clinging to the childlike reality they always knew. So what was the funniest tween moment you saw?

1 comment:

  1. Wow as the mom of two boys, this really doesn't sound so great! Hang in there mama!

    Also, I read something interesting recently that said that adolescence as we know it in America really doesn't exist in a lot of other cultures. Children are children until they are adults. And a lot of the angst/over-emotion/drama that comes with what we know as adolescence really gets bypassed. It was interesting... it seems a lot of what our kids go through is fabricated by our society. How lovely!