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What To Do When Your Tween Boy Wants To Hold Your Hand

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JENNYISENMAN
Jenny Isenman

You know, that stage in a boy's life, when mom is not quite as smart, cool... or necessary as she once was? Sure, they want you to get them a glass of water when they're in bed. Sometimes, they'll throw you a bone and ask you to lay with them when they're freaked out by some scary character they saw in a trailer on YouTube. Yep, they have to settle for horror movie trailers because that same annoying overprotective mother (you) said they weren't old enough to watch Final Destination or SAW. (Smart choice.)

I'm there. My sweet, amazing baby boy (who I wrote about here) is now a tween.

Actually, tween really is the perfect term, as they're truly somewhere between "Mommy will you come in my room?" and "Mom, my room is off limits to you." They're between, "Mom I think Katie likes me because she always says 'Hi,' so what do I do now?" and Mom overhearing him tell some friends he wants to date Chastity because she puts out. (This is why you should never name your child Chastity... because irony is a bitch.)

I remember when the shift into tweenishness occurred. It was last year when he returned from sleep-away camp. He was able to fall asleep without me coming in. He was able to make decisions without conferring with me first. Damn, stupid, independence-inducing, free-thinking-fostering camp! This year he's not going, which I'm secretly thankful for (fingers crossed he'll regress just a tad).

So the other day, in my son's foray into tween-hood, he looked at me with those same wide eyes that once asked, "Mommy, when I'm older will you marry me?" and asked, "Mom, I'm getting older, doesn't that mean I should start wearing Hollister?"

I looked back at my boy in his ratty sweatpants and torn Under Armour tee that he's worn some variation of for three years (right about the same time he stopped letting me pick out his clothes) and said, "Yes, yes it does."

And we headed to the mall. No, my baby didn't need me to help him blow his nose but as a serious fashionista, he needed me to help him put together outfits that say, "I'm cool and hip, without even trying." I'm a freakin' pro at that. We walked the aisles as I explained the joy in finding a BOGO and also how to wear a button-down in a casual way. I introduced him to shoes that were not athletic. Who knew THEY existed? Not him. We talked about what the cryptic "Beyond" is, as in Bed Bath and.... We even discussed the girl he likes. Who he's pretty sure likes him back because she smiles at him. A lot.

At one point in our day, he sidled up to me and grabbed my hand. This may have been the highlight. But I was careful not to let on. How careful, you ask? Well, my inner dialogue went like this:

OK Jenny, act natural. Whatever you do, do not draw attention to it. Don't be queer and swing your hands, or goofy and try to spin him, or say what you're REALLY thinking which is, "Oh My G-d you're holding my hand, I don't know when the last time you did this was, but NEVER NEVER NEVER let go. OK my sweet, precious baby boy?" Do NOT say that. Go limp as if you don't even notice or care... and enjoy.

So I did. You would think I had a tranquilizer shot straight into my palm with the nonchalance my hand conveyed. Oh, but it was a lovely stroll that said, you're still the best, and I love you.

That evening, he wore one of his new outfits to dinner: a Hollister tee under an American Eagle v-neck casual sweater with a pair of longboard cargo shorts, a canvas belt and Vans. Before we left, he asked me to dry his hair, which is similar to Justin Bieber's (from the days when JB was all wholesome and called his mom on stage at concerts to thank her for birthing him).

My husband, upon seeing this, went into sarcastic man mode, "Ooh you're having Mommy blow out your hair? You're so pretty."

My son and I laughed, I may have overcompensated with my laugh in a desperate attempt to make it seem not at all like a dig or something that would embarrass him into never asking me to blow dry his hair again.

When I was done I walked up to my oh-so-witty hubby and whispered, "You let me enjoy this mother f#cker, you hear me?"

He nodded and squeaked out an, "uh-huh." I may or may not have been squeezing his balls as I politely whispered. I can't recall, but I think we're all good. Though I may let my tween watch Prometheus or maybe Hostel. You know, for good measure?

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