Once, I interviewed a professor who specialized in communications and she pointed out that the tween category was basically invented for marketing purposes. I’m not sure if marketing has played a role, but Nene is exhibiting tween characteristics.
He has the body and mind of a child but like an adolescent we are seeing him less and less. Every waking minute that he is not in school – and I suspect a fair amount of time in school – is spent basically running off to play football with someone or other. On a weekend, his schedule is – wake up at 6.30 am, finish breakfast and general time pass by 8 am maximum and then start bugging us to let him go downstairs. Which we eventually cave into because it seems churlish to imprison a boy who just wants to run at home.
Even if we have something planned, we find ourselves having to convince him to spend time with us over Friend A, B or C who he sees every day. He does enjoy himself when he comes out with us, but it astonishes me that at age 8, I have to even have this conversation.
The problem is that he is popular and obsessed with football. I try, but it’s hard for me to drum up enthusiasm for football. V volunteers to play with him but if there’s a pal around, daddy is relegated to the sidelines.
V says he was exactly like this as a kid. He left home in the morning and was only seen in the evening, stopping back hole maybe for lunch. At least we know where he is – his mother didn’t.
Thankfully, he is otherwise amenable to our directions. There are just a few things that he will insist forcefully on – the regulated time we allow him to watch TV/ play video games, and recently wearing his football shoes to school every day (in order to do this, he learnt to tie his own laces in record time).
Still, when shouts back “noooo!” I have intimations of things to come. This is a kid who we are used to cooperating with us and who is used to us cooperating with him. He is used to being the “good kid” so he takes a ticking off very hard. This is something we have to work on.
In other signs of growing up too soon, he got his first love letter. A girl in his class passed him a note with the words and I summarise: “Do you like me I like you. Tick yes if you want to be my boyfriend” He had ticked yes and returned the note before he showed it to us. So my son, aged seven, had acquired a girlfriend.
This provoked a conversation on what this relationship means and lines that must not be crossed: “No kissing!” “Eww!” Turns out being someone’s boyfriend means sitting with them on the bus, sometimes holding hands, not even playing with each other (I wanted to make sure that other friends would not be neglected). They are now not even in the same class and seem to have largely forgotten that they are “engaged”.
Apart from football, his obsessions are F1 (career choices are between football star and F1 driver) and gold and it’s variants. Also inserting poop, fart etc into every other sentence and perfecting armpit and (the latest innovation) thigh farts.
I still read to him almost every night, and he cuddles up to me (and is generally okay with being cuddled) so I haven’t entirely lost my little boy yet.
Yesterday, Mimi reported that he had been looking up “bad words” in the dictionary. Namely, the D-words (dumb!) and the I-word (idiot!). Okay then.