One of the first things we did this summer was to convert what was once my studio slash office slash baby’s playspace into a proper playroom for all three kids. My workspaces have been relocated, all the kids’ instruments have been corralled, Jade’s got her art station, Roux’s got an entire room to explore, and Emet’s got his screen.
Oh, the screen.
For nine years we’ve been without a TV in plain sight, and we did well without it. But my eldest is getting bigger, and as he ages he craves more connection with his peers. Even in our Waldorf school class, he is in the minority when it comes to kids with access to personal devices. Televisions are commonplace, as are phones and tablets. He had none of these things, and it was starting to create major friction. So we brought the TV out from the closet, set it up in the corner along with the PS4 Babe got as a gift last Christmas from a client, and purchased a couple games Emet had been talking about. While it hasn’t entirely eliminated the pleas for a cell phone, it has provided him a certain sense of belonging with kids his age that didn’t exist prior to this change in our home, and for that I am willing to reconsider my ban on technology. I mean, he is twelve.
Twelve! A certifiable preteen! My baby’s nearly taller than I am – if I were a gambling gal, I’d put money on him towering over me by the end of the summer – and what a delightful young man he’s growing up to be. Yet we are gradually sliding into arguably the most tumultuous developmental period, and I want to be prepared.
I won’t lie, kids this age are…intense. I remember vividly what it felt like to be twelve, all feverish with preadolescence, stuffed to the brim with an intoxicating mixture of hope, bravado, and naïeveté, wanting nothing more than for time to speed up so I could be a teenager already! That my sweet son has arrived at this point in his growth, the precipice of puberty, is as heartbreaking as it is exciting. The angst! It is real, and I remember it well.
I think it’s especially charming that he wants to “hang out with friends” as opposed to having playdates.
I’m trying really hard to embrace his desire to connect with mainstream pop culture, although I struggle with allowing him too much access because I find most of what’s available to kids these days to be overly sexualized and extremely insulting to their actual capacity for intelligent discussion. And the violence! Recently, I’ve gone on a quest to find characters in the media that are worthy of my child’s attention, and all I could come up with is Tavi Gevinson, who is quite literally a revolutionary young woman with a remarkable resume, a great sense of style, and an even stronger sense of self. Her movement, however, is skewed toward females the way Sassy magazine was when I was growing up.
I was an avid reader of Sassy back in the day and the fact that Tavi draws much of her inspiration from the early 90s is probably why discovering her work resonated with me so strongly – it is a nostalgic representation very reminiscent of the reconciliation of my own youth and the realization that I was no longer a child yet definitely not a grown up, those feelings still readily accessible, even as I approach my mid-thirties, feelings which are amplified by the fact that my very own kid is just beginning to explore the exact same dynamic in himself.
Only, when I was twelve, I had waaaayyyy more freedom than I allow my own child. I also had truly irresponsible and selfish parents, who mostly didn’t care what I did, and while there is a world of difference between liberty and neglect, I am beginning to wonder if maybe he should be granted more independence. I don’t really have any idea as to what this means practically, only an abstract train of thought I’m trying to better understand and hopefully translate into meaningful experiences for my rapidly growing first born.
So, dear readers. Allow to me ask you what you most remember about being twelve? What were your favorite things to do, and what did you wish your parents better understood? And while we’re at it, are there current media figures worthy of my child’s attention, and if so, who are they?!