Tuesday, 9 November 2010

The Tweenage Phenomenon

Unbeknown to me, two Americanisms have quietly crept into my title today. The first being the word 'phenomenon'. Is it just me, or does everyone else have to say it with an American accent too?

The second is far more complex in nature. The mystery of the 'tweenager'. Having never been a tweenager (they did not exist when I was younger, we were just normal children), it has arrived in our household as a surprising puzzle for us to figure out. ("Figure" also has to be said with an American accent, as in "Action Figyurs".) The tweenager is apparently aged between 9 and 12 and is not a child (the jury is still out on that one) and not a teenager (definitely not). As far as I can tell, the idea is an American one, born out of over-sentimental films such as High School Musical which encourage children to grow up sooner than they need and small girls to wear make up and raunchy clothing. (Can you feel another blog coming on?!)

Nevertheless, we suddenly have a 9 year old boy who slams doors, plays loud music (if JLS can be included within the remit of 'music'), envelops the house in clouds of Lynx and wants every gadget under the sun. He wants more freedom, he wants to go bed later and he expects us to follow his wishes. Like a toddler, he is learning how to be independent from us and pushing the boundaries constantly.

It may come as a surprise to you, but I have never been a 9 year old boy. I do not know how they think and view the world. Somehow we have to navigate Toby through this time of growth (for that is what it is) and still maintain our authority. He is not a teenager, but he would like to be. He is not old enough to do, say and watch the things that teenagers do, say and watch. However, he is also not a small child anymore and we need to treat him differently to the way we treat Max aged 6 and Jonah aged 3. We have to give him a measure of independence whilst making sure that he is within our realms of safety. Is it a fragile line to tread.

The other strange occurence that has accompanied this 'tweenagedom' is that Max and Jonah join in with this shift in the family. At 3 years old, Jonah prefers CBBC's Sarah Jane Adventures (Toby would NEVER have been allowed to watch that at 3, or even 6!) to anything that is on Cbeebies and sings the JLS songs word perfectly.

Perhaps after having 9 years of tweenage boys, they will not be such a mystery to us. We might even be able to put aside the cheesy High School Musical American images and actually enjoy these years!

1 comment:

Shona said...

I think the term "tweenager" is just a new American colloquial for "Middle childhood" which is how I've always understood the years between the ages of 8/9 and 12 to be. I can definitely remember slamming doors, stomping up the stairs, shouting "I hate you" and kicking my bedroom wall from the age of 9 :-) I can only assume that "tweenage" boys are similar but different in their expression!!

I do not envy your current learning experience but expect I shall be not long behind you lol