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Parenting is a wild journey, I don't have to tell you that, but parenting a tween is a creature until itself.
“Take my hand, Mommy!” He steps carefully off the curb, the toes of his shoes scuffed from too many trip and falls. “Look both ways!” he reminds me, his singsong voice mimicking mine the million times we've done this before.
We're walking to kindergarten, a short 5 minute walk from home.
He holds tight to my hand, even when we aren't crossing the street, and to this day, I can still feel his sticky fingers in mine, swinging between us as we walk.
This is one side of the Wilson Phillips line.
Parenting a Tween
Flash forward a handful of years that have flown by far too quickly.
“I set a timer on the stove, so I'll leave in 9 minutes, Mommy. Have you seen my homework? Did you sign my permission slip?”
He still calls me Mommy, but the other moments are slipping by, and every day I wonder if it's the last. He spends more time in front of the mirror these days, and there's one certain girl in class whose name will cause an instant change of subject. I catch him sometimes, practicing his swoopy hair flip thing in the mirror, when he's not working on his flossing. (The dance, not the dental hygiene)
Every day, we're closer to the other side of the Wilson Phillips line. Hold On / Release Me. I know we have a few years before we're empty nesting, but the moments that are inching us towards that day don't pass by unnoticed.
It starts small. He walks himself to school and back. His opinions on his clothes and hairstyle strengthen. I've been unable to convince him to get his hair cut for a couple of months now.
Parenting a Tween: Release me.
I'm trying. The goal of parenting is that part, right? To launch them into the world as fully formed humans, good people who will leave this world a better place than they found it, in whatever small ways they can.
I try to transition between these moments with grace, and gratitude. Max still holds my hand, sometimes, and is still the best cuddler I know, even as his elbows and knees grow gangly and poke me in all my soft spots when we do snuggle.
Our step over the Wilson Phillips line is coming, I can see it, but until that day comes, all I can do is hold on. It's basically the soundtrack of parenting.