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Kathy Tofflemire, Published July 20 2010

Parenting Perspectives: Tween scene arrives

It’s the little things that begin to form evidence that my grandson is growing up.

He announced himself as a sixth-grader within hours of graduating fifth grade.

He proclaimed Carl Ben Eielson Middle School “cool.” His parents found it “big and scary.”

He received his summer haircut at the barbershop where his father goes. No more trips to the kiddie salon for him.

And he now weighs enough to engage the front-seat airbag in his mother’s car – and mine. My daughter’s thrilled that she now has someone to “ride shotgun.” Not to mention that he has less direct contact with the little brother with whom he’s shared the rear accommodations for nearly eight years – and not always with good humor or patience.

He thinks he’s now too old for day care. In fact, he believes his three and a half years of additional experience render him capable of “parenting” his younger brother. His mother is often amused to hear him admonishing his sibling as she would.

And he’s tall enough for all the carnival rides at the Red River Valley Fair and, in fact, has no fear of the extreme roller coasters at the Valley Fair amusement park.

Hugs from Mom in front of people other than family? They’re starting to make him squirm in embarrassment. But worse is her yelling out her pet name for him when he’s on the baseball field. Good grief. What must his teammates think?

He’s in the shower first thing every morning and douses himself with a scent that smells like chocolate.

He’s become concerned about his complexion and his hair. It’s “what was I thinking” when he sees old photos of his longer hair.

His shorts have to be of a particular length, or he won’t wear them.

He’s a tween, and it’s almost scary.

I’ll be interested to see if his younger brother will be the same way in three or four years.

Right now, Mr. Laid Back is all about affection, and he couldn’t care less if his clothes match or even if they’re being worn correctly.

“Your shirt is on backward.”

“It doesn’t matter.”

“Your socks don’t match.”

“I don’t care.”

And he sometimes has to be reminded that washing his hair is a good idea.

But I don’t think the differences between the two boys have as much to do with age as they do with personality.

Yet the younger one likely would agree with his brother’s most recent sign of growing up: He would prefer that his grandmother not write about him.

Kathy Tofflemire is a copy editor at The Forum. Readers can reach her at (701) 241-5514 or ktofflemire@forumcomm.com