Out of the mouths of tweens

When my daughter was little, I was entertained by all her hilarious one-liners, and the fun that results from kids mangling the tricky English language as they learn it. My mom and I were recently talking about the ways my daughter has contributed to the family vocabulary over the years, including when at age four she told an elder relative, "You're screweded!" We still use that phrase. I’ve been missing that part of parenting small children, but last night I was reminded that my tween still has a way with words and can still be very, very funny when it comes to language.

As you may know, I am a Notre Dame fan. This fall, you may remember, my tween declared that she was NOT a Notre Dame fan. This could have become a complicated situation when Notre Dame played in the BCS National Championship game last night, but after I made it clear that this football game was very important to me, my tween and her bonus dad (my husband) were gracious in respecting my alma mater.

And then, Notre Dame blew it. They played horribly. Alabama was far and away the better team. The tide did indeed roll, much to my dismay. My team was screwded.

As I stared wild eyed at the television, fists clinched, jaw locked, every muscle tense, my husband asked, "Are you all right?" Before I could answer, my tween chimed in, "She's just thinking all the bad words that can't say when I'm around."

And I laughed. She was right. Absolutely right. My mind was a swirl of swear words, and I was trying hard to maintain composure and be a decent roll model, and then she broken the tension that was causing. It reminded me of several parenting truths.

  • Kids come up with funny comments regardless of age.
  • Our children may not seem to pay attention to what is going on, but they are aware of pretty much every situation. Ridiculously aware. I didn’t think my tween was paying much attention to the game or to me, but I was wrong.
  • By the time they're tweens, children have spent a large amount of time with parents, and they know us pretty well, often times better than we give them credit for.
  • Tweens may tell parents that they don't like them, or their radio station, or their rules and limits. That doesn't mean that they don't love and care for their family. At one point during that truly awful first quarter of football, when it was clear that my dreams of a national championship were going to be crushed, my daughter said to herself, "It's just football." Tucking her in bed that night, I told her, "You're right, it's just football. It's a game, and there are a lot of more important things in life." This child loves being told she's right, and always happy to point out when people agree with her, so I was surprised when she said, "But I know it was really important to you now. I’m sorry they lost.” Then she gave me a hug. Perfect.

Tweens are full of surprises, and sometimes they surprise us in good ways when we least expect it. I'm filing this away from when the surprise is not so charming.

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