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Let the tween years begin

Harrison Kellogg McKenna celebrating his 10th birthday with

Harrison Kellogg McKenna celebrating his 10th birthday with cake. Credit: Newsday photo / Valerie Kellogg

With my son turning 10 this week comes the realization that I am now the parent of a tween, which is described as dramatic a period of growth as the teen years as well as the time between conception and birth.

It's also a challenging time -- for both of us. As I watch my son and his friends bust out of their clothes, I feel I am outgrowing mine. At one moment I could be mothering a baby, a toddler, a preschooler, a teenager, a young man.

Here's a tweeny bit about what I and other parents I know have learned so far.

A tween points out to friends how wrong it is to kiss your mother on the lips, yet stands at the door with tears in his eyes waiting for you to come home from work so that you can hold him after he's had a challenging day.

A tween doesn't want to be seen anymore in his Mario picture shirts, but doesn't want to part with them, either, preferring to wear them as pajama tops instead.

A tween holds his parent when he's tired, but explodes if the moment was inadvertently captured in a snapshot and demands, "Don't put that on Facebook!"

A tween asks, "Was she hot?" when his friend mentions an old baby-sitter in passing, but crinkles his nose in disgust when he is asked in private later if he likes any girls at school.

A tween locks his door behind him even when he's simply reading a new comic in his room, although even just a year ago he wanted you to sit on his bed and hang out no matter what he was doing.

A tween doesn't have a baby-bottom-smooth complexion anymore, although you always notice how his cheeks are as adorable as they were when he was born.

A tween considers "puberty" to be a punchline when joking around with buddies, but then hates it when you mention the hair on his legs.

A tween rushes to the playground when he spots one at the park, and you wonder how long that impulse will last.

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