What You Know When You’re 12

October 8, 2016


Don’t you love the prefix “Pre”?

We all know pre means “before,” and I find those three letters surprisingly optimistic and cheerful.

I think PREgame, PREsale, or PREschedule.  All fun things, right?

Today I have a 12-year-old son (what??) who is, by definition, a PREteen.

He is PREparing for some marvelous years ahead filled with opportunities and privileges he’s just starting to imagine. But there’s already so much adventure at age 12, I don’t want to rush through what is already in place. I want to celebrate what PRE brings us now.

Maybe your preteen experience isn’t fresh in your mind, so here are a few reminders of a 12-year-old mindset and how it’s  leveraged in daily life.

Fashion Freedom


Comfort Rules!

There is no shame in wearing shorts year round if they keep you out of uncomfortable jeans. Warmth is overrated!
Are you interested in pairing earth tones with neon? Go for it!
Why are there fashion rules anyway? No one needs those!
If anyone (including your best friend) tells you to go to a cotillion anything — RUN!  Sheesh… that was terrible.

You do you. Ignore everyone else!



Barefoot is always choice #1.
Flip flops are a close second.
Tennis shoes are a negotiated settlement so you don’t have to wear anything from the loafer family!

If you are losing battles for the more appealing options, put the shoes you dislike someplace where no reasonably minded person would ever look… and always know where to find a pair of flip flops when the search is abandoned.

Lightening Fast Learning


Focus intently on the Marvel movie trailers and learn every bit of dialog. Memorize the release dates of movies, TV shows, and Rotten Tomato scores. Even if you can sing every last lyric from the Hamilton musical (leaving out the swear words), chances are people may still believe you have forgotten test dates.

This is your last window to leverage the “just a kid” thing, so play both sides of the intelligence field!

Yes, and…


There are so many things to explore. Parents still think you need to be exposed to a wide variety of stuff, so say yes. Go with the flow. Learn magic tricks. Take up the banjo, or cello, or both! Learn to bake cupcakes. Spray paint random things. If parents offer to take you to a new state, see it as an adventure and don’t complain (or they may stop).

If you have the chance to see American Ninja Warrior, WILL yourself to stay awake until 3 am. Saying yes (even when it means losing sleep) usually has great payoffs.

Notice Little Things


Read the fine print and notice everything that interests you. Watch where your mom hides chocolate chips for her baking. Arrange your Lego mini-figures so you know if anyone has messed with them without permission. Track football rankings so you know which team deserves your support (carving out Broncos, Bruins, and Jackets!).

Look for patterns –  like how signals are timed, when frogs are most likely to be in the pool, and what the dog is doing when he’s trying to find a good place to sleep. Become an expert on the lesser-known benefits of missing teeth (like using the space for holding chopsticks).

Stay Nimble


You have better eyes than your parents. You can read fine print and navigate to websites before they can find their glasses. Pay attention to this type sequencing. Sure, they use words like “sequencing” which can be confusing, but you can move faster than they.

Speed is your friend and flexibility is your cousin, so keep them close.

Remember Promises


When your parents thought riding to elementary school wasn’t possible without getting killed (who needs sidewalks or bike lanes?!) and they PROMISED you could ride your bike to Middle School, hold them to it. Know the precise age your older sister got her phone and then constantly remind your parents of their obligation to you. If they promised Taco Tuesday three weeks ago, don’t let it go.

Parents have faulty memories. It is your job to remind them of their duties.

Make ‘Em Laugh


Things go better when people are smiling. Punishments seem to be lighter and getting past the stink eye is easier if you push someone’s funny button. Use voices. Wear costumes. Remember what makes each individual laugh. This skill will serve you well.

To our wonderful, amazing, 12-year-old son Josh, you are the very best 12 years a boy could be…and you’re just getting started.

Happy Happy YOU day!!


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5 Responses to “What You Know When You’re 12”

  1. Kimberly Says:

    So beautiful! How lucky are your children to not only have you for a mom but to have such exquisitely written tributes from you to cherish their whole lives.


  2. Kimberly Says:

    By the way, as a fellow mother of a son (now supposedly “grown” at 25 though the jury is so out on that . . .), I have to tell you about this song. We are big country music fans in my family. My daughter just moved to Nashville to pursue her passion. Anyway, I was at a songwriter concert last night. My daughter’s favorite songwriter, Nicolle Galyon, performed a song she wrote two weeks before giving birth to her now two year old son. I believe it is called “Boy.” Your son doesn’t sound quite like these lyrics, but I think any mom of a son would relate in some way. It had me all choked up last night: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hw5SYddm258. I tried to find the lyrics for you, b/c that’s what I truly love, but couldn’t. Hopefully you can hear the in this.


  3. Ellie Phenix Says:

    <3 (but I know more Hamilton.)


  4. Fiona Says:

    Happy giving birth day Joyce. I am 5 days away of mine being 12.
    Nice post! So many “diddo” s.


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