I used to scoff at the term "tween" (which didn't even exist in my youth, yet my peers and I still managed to mature into normal, well-adjusted adults, right?). It seemed crystal clear to me that there were distinct phases in the process of growing up: childhood, punctuated by the onset of puberty, gradually sliding into adolescence. Then I had children. And suddenly, 9-year old Derek is a poster child for tween-ness (tweenhood? tweenescence? tweenies? oh, nevermind.)
Sometimes he clings--unconsciously, I think--to the safety and comfort of childhood, like when he asks to be tucked into bed every night. He likes me to keep him company when he does his homework. He freely hugs me, and allows me to hug him, EVEN at the bus stop (for now). He mostly still calls me Mommy (because he doesn't realize he's doing it yet--so shhh!)
But impending doom--I mean adolescence--sneaks up at times, making brief but startling appearances. Like when he announced, in response to my query about what he wanted to be for Halloween this year, that he "didn't really want to do that anymore." Excuse me, WHAT? He went on to explain that he just doesn't want to dress up, and doesn't really care about the candy he can't eat anyway (because of his braces). I swear he sounded about 15. (In contrast, 6-year old Riley piped up with "maybe I won't dress up either, but I'll walk around and trick-or-treat!" To which Derek laughingly replied "that's not really Halloween, that's just begging for candy!")
Then there's the Major Deodorant Controversy, for which I will state right now: I blame their father. You see, Derek has, in just the last few months, begun exuding a certain odor after being outside and running around for hours. Not BO, per se, since he doesn't actually smell like sweat. To my nose, it's more like a wet-dog kind of smell. And it's not overwhelming, probably not even noticeable to outsiders or to Derek himself...that is until Husband started making a HUGE deal out of it every night. Waving his hand in front of his face, wrinkling his nose, declaring how much Derek's "pits reek" (and he still has the nerve to call ME dramatic?). I swear he gave the poor boy a complex.
So Derek began bugging me for deodorant. Uh-uh. No way am I buying my 9-year old Right Guard. I offered him talcum powder, but he looked horrified at the idea of smelling like a baby's bottom. (I can't imagine why; I TOLD him everyone digs the fresh baby smell. Somehow this did not have the desired effect...) So off to Roots Market I went, in search of something acceptably organic to sprinkle on my 4th grader. And would you believe they sell a product, specifically for the male underarm area, called Pit Stop? ("the sweat without the stink" I did not make that up.) It's a baking-soda-based powder in a manly-colored cylinder, with a (presumably fresh-scented) mountain-biking guy on the front. This was acceptable to Derek.
This could have been the happy conclusion to the saga, with everyone involved feeling pleased and satisfied...however, I happened to let slip that while reading the labels at the store, I noticed the difference between the mens' and ladies' versions was the particular fragrance used: for women, gardenia; for men, patchouli. So now my husband makes a point of mentioning how Derek "smells like a patchouli" whenever he enters a room (and no, NO ONE knows what that means). Sigh. I'm already outnumbered so what's one more adolescent boy in the house?