By: Shannon Ralph
I adore my son. I love him with all my heart. I do, however, find myself sometimes marveling at the unparalleled anomaly that is a 12-year-old boy. Not yet a teen. No longer a little kid. My son is taller than me. Hairier. His feet are huge. His socks smell. He’s opinionated. He’s silly. He’s thoughtful and introspective. He is incredibly sensitive. I have to be careful what I say to him as he can get his feelings hurt easily. He’s messy. Disorganized. His bedroom (and his backpack) are a cluttered mess. His hygiene often leaves something to be desired.
Parenting a 12-year-old boy can be a daunting task. He’s changing every single day. Growing into a man before my very eyes. As I sit here watching him lounge—his humungous size 12 feet hanging off the edge of the couch—I am struck by the fact that there really should be a manual or a rulebook of some sort to prepare parents for the often surprising task of raising an almost-teenaged boy. Since no such rulebook exists, I thought I would share some of the unwritten rules I have discovered (at my own peril) in recent months.
Below are my 12 Commandments for Parenting a 12-Year-Old Boy:
- Thou shalt not utter a single sound within earshot of any of your child’s friends. Even a simple “hello” may have mortifying consequences.
- Though shalt support the narrative that your son fell to Earth from the heavens above and has no living parents to speak of (with the caveat that thou shalt miraculously appear when your child needs money…and then quickly dissipate into oblivion once more).
- Thou shalt not worship false idols. Or American idols. Or anything that comes on television, for that matter, because your child will monopolize the TV watching fucking Minecraft videos on YouTube 24/7.
- Thou shalt be relegated to cold dinners because your son will want seconds and thirds before you even get through your first bite. How does a human being—a creature with neither a vacuum hose attachment nor a sump pump system—inhale food like that? And where does he put it all?!
- Thou shalt not refer to your son’s friends as his posse. Or his dudes. Or his peeps. Or his bros. It is probably best if you do not refer to them at all. (See Commandment #1 for additional information on speaking to your son’s friends.)
- Thou shalt not use any of the following terms of endearment to refer to your son (in public or otherwise): Honey, Baby Boy, Darling, Sweetie, Prince, Sweetcheeks, Snuggle Bunny, Peanut, Boo, Possum, Poopsie, Lovebug, Cutie Patootie, Pumpkin Butter, or Lukie Pukie.
- Thou shalt not steal hugs (or, heaven forbid, kisses!) from your son upon threat of disownment. (Don’t get your hopes up, however, as your child is unlikely to disown you for long.)
- Thou shalt not covet a clean house. It will not happen until your child leaves for college…assuming he improves his grades enough to get into any institute of higher education that does not require cursive writing, as they don’t teach that useless shit in school anymore. You can’t text in cursive, amiright?
- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s Prada handbag. You will never—EVER—be able to afford one with all the cash you dish out for soccer cleats (for feet that seem to grow an inch a day) and guitar lessons and fencing equipment and band fees and choir trips and…
- Thou shalt not ask him about girls. Or imply that girls go to his school. Or that he has classes with girls. Or that girls exist outside of Disney movies and tampon commercials. (Oh yeah…and never ever say the T word in front of him unless you enjoy the melodic harmonies of feigned puking.)
- Thou shalt not kill your child’s cool homeless vibe by suggesting he bathe, put on deodorant, brush his teeth, comb his hair, or change his underwear.
- Honor thy father and mother, but do not get your hopes up that you will be honored as a father or mother. That is unlikely to happen until you are a grandparent and your son finally realizes all the inconceivable
shitpleasures you put up withenjoyed for all those years and would (happily) do all over again.