Welcome to the land of tantrums and crocodile tears


One minute he's all hugs and cuddles and the next I can't be in a 15 foot radius from him.
Yup, the pre-teen years have hit with a massive deluge of angst, eye-rolling and smelly armpits.

While I can't say I have even close to a clue of what I'm doing and really, I spend most of my time in utter disbelief of the roller-coaster display of emotion coming from my once upon a time not so little any more boy (and really amazed that it's no longer only me being overly dramatic in this house), I can say that I have learned some valuable lessons while figuring out how to handle ALL THE FEELS.  This is what I know so far.

Navigating the tween years.  A not so perfect guide

1. Conversation is necessary and it must be distraction free.

A couple of weekends ago on a basketball tournament in Calgary, I had an uninterrupted hour with my 11 year old, which easily could have been very long depending on his mood.   As we sat down for our meal together I made of point of putting away my cell and attempted to converse with him.  I asked him questions about things that interest him right now and he spoke passionately.  I learned about the differences between Apex and Fortnite, why the recent update of Fortnite is lame and what he likes and dislikes about basketball.  While the hour was spent discussing things I could care less about, it left him feeling animated and engaged and really, I just loved that he was talking to me.
I also make the point of talking to him about his day at school, asking a million questions and not stopping until he answers at least one.  He is normally quite chatty after school so that can be fun.

2.  Give space when needed.

Mornings and night times I usually have to keep a 2km radius around him or he gets mad.  Occasionally he'll let me in and you can bet your bottom dollar that I come running and soak it up.  Even if it means sitting beside him on the couch while he teaches me how to solve a rubics cube.  His bedroom has become his oasis and he is starting to spend more and more time away from us, which breaks my heart a little but I get it.  I hide in my room often too.  My goal in the next year is to make his room a haven where he can work, relax and feel comfortable basically living in as I have a feeling the distancing himself from us trend won't change anytime soon.

3.  Listen to what he's really saying.

While it is very clear who makes the rules in our house, he does try to influence/debate/argue the shit out of them quite often.  Regardless what he's trying to get out of (current struggle is deodarant) I will always make a point to let him know that I am listening and that he his heard.  He may not get his way but he will always be able to tell me what's on his mind and I will listen (or at least pretend to) with an open mind.   Sometimes I laugh a maniacal demon laugh and roll my eyes right back at him because no, you can't wake up at 6 am to play video games because we're sleeping and don't know the difference.  Other times do make concessions when something is giving him grief- for example he hates having two different sports in one night, so we've stopped rushing that way. 
I have a feeling that if I don't let him know that he's heard now, then he won't even try talking to me later when the problems will likely be even bigger.

4.  Laugh.  Be Vulnerable. Admit mistakes. 

I have learned to let him see me be human- a living, mistake making, remorseful, celebratory, wild and giddy person with feelings just like him.  If he does something to hurt me, I tell him.  If he does something funny, we laugh until we cry.  We watch the Raptors and Blue Jays together and talk sports.   He is pretty good at picking up when I'm mad or upset and will actually ask me what's going on, so I make sure that when that window opens I tell him as much truth as I can.   We also joke around a lot in our house.  He and Dan have the same sense of humour and tell the same (lame) jokes so it can get pretty ridiculous around here.  My favourite is when Will goes out of his way to do something to make Dan crack up.

In the end, as it has been with the majority of the parenting moments, things are constantly changing and I'm finding myself having to adapt and modify my approach to all the emotions that are happening with our pre-teen.   I feel if I can approach this stage with an open heart, being aware that it's just the hormones morphing him into a sometimes demon child, and that he probably really doesn't think I'm that uncool, then I may survive puberty and come out laughing in the end.

Cheers to raising fun humans!

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