Just tween you and me

Posted on June 9, 2013


Tweens chasing each other

Listen, son, let’s be clear about this: your job as my son is to make me feel better about myself by being the kid I wished I had been. You’re supposed to make up for all my youthful shortcomings as I re-live my youth vicariously through you. See, you are my “If I could do it all over again I would…” machine; you’re my second chance to get it right. No pressure.

Just kidding, there’s loads of pressure so don’t mess this up.


Tween girls are scary things to a tween boy. They talk funny. They’re nearly twice your height, which places their newly emerging breasts at precisely eye level. Not that it matters—you’d be staring at them wherever they were. Tween girls kick you in the shins for no apparent reason and you’re sure that means they hate you even though your dad says that means they like you.  You have a strange desire to kick them back as hard as you can–while holding their hand, after school, alone on the playground.

When I was twelve, I was quite certain that any time a girl laughed, I was the reason. Keep in mind that back then braces were basically a collection of nuts and bolts held together by rebar and welded steel beams. My headgear alone must have weighed 30 pounds and was fixed to my head with some kind of fiberglass-reinforced industrial strapping system. I don’t think my lips actually made contact with one another for the whole two years I had braces.

When you add in my Jeffery Dahmer glasses and my unique fashion sense (which is to say, I had none), it’s probably not a stretch to see why my girl-related self confidence was perhaps lower than it could be.

As a tween, the prospect of finding myself the lone boy among a gaggle of pre-teen girls was enough to keep me up at night. It scared the hell out of me yet, oddly, still inevitably resulted in the need to change my sheets.

So, you can imagine I was pretty jazzed yesterday when you fearlessly weaseled your way into the all-girl birthday party next door. Nicely done, dude! You have some real talent and the balls to back it up.

Five minutes later, you showed up back outside. Really? You get the Golden Ticket, you’re the only boy in a room filled with cute tweeny girls, and you leave? On purpose?

Then, I noticed something and things became clear. My vicarious, retroactively-repaired, girl-related self confidence was reset back to zero when I saw the ring of blue frosting around your mouth.

You were just in it for the cake.