Tracey Jackson

Feb 7 2010 | 7 Comments

SHE’S A TWEEN – WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

Lucy the Tween

Lucy the Tween

Tween Cocktail of Choice

Tween Cocktail of Choice

Tweenie Cake - Chocolate Chip Cookie from CRUMBS

Tweenie Cake - Chocolate Chip Cookie from CRUMBS

You are ten not tween

You are ten not tween

Tweens like totally love ice cream!

Tweens like totally love ice cream!

Mothering is like fashion every season they seem to change the rules on you and you have to somehow figure out how to work in last year’s tried and trues with this year’s new styles.

I have just gotten used to having a college freshman. In fact I write this from the Acela on my way to Boston to see her.

My first solo trip since I left her off in September. Who would have thunk it? I surprised myself. I have not been the cling-mama I would have predicted.

So just when it felt safe to go in the water, just when we had the rhythm of the ages all sorted out and everyone’s placement secured, Lucy goes and has a double-digit birthday.

For ten years she has been the baby of the family, the one that while feisty and full of her own ideas and ways to do things, was still the squirt, the one you could yell “Because I’m the mother that’s why.”

“Seven-year-olds go to bed at eight, Eight-year- olds, eight-thirty (you try, you pray, you fail) Nine year olds start negotiating.

But now – now she daily informs me she is a tween and the rules have changed.

“I’m not a little kid,  I’m a tween.”

“What does that mean?” I say trying to retain my firm parental footing.

“I’m not a kid and I’m not a teenager. I’m a tween.”

I haven’t heard such an adamant declaration of age as change, since Taylor was  “seventeen and a second semester senior.”

The good news is she is not officially a tween until next Monday.

But she has jumped the shark and as far as she is concerned she is a full-fledged tween.

What are tween rules? They are un-chartered, we must make them up as we go along. She has ideas, they differ from mine.

Since her birthday always seems to fall on President’s Weekend, we had her party last night, festively ringing in her tweeniness.

We took a few of her friends to a movie, WHEN IN ROME, if you want to know my feelings about this film you must follow me @duck4 on Twitter, as I tweeted throughout the film. That in itself tells you something about how much I liked it.

Then we took her four best friends to dinner at SWEETIEPIE.

Sweetipie for those of you who know NYC restaurants is like a cross between Dylan’s Candy Bar, Serendipity and your grandmother’s tearoom.

It has tater tots and macaroni and cheese and artichokes and champagne. It’s clearly a birthday spot as three quarters of the tables seemed to be female birthdays, tweens celebrating various years of tweendom.

Sweetiepie in fact, appears to be tween central.

They must be for real they have their own restaurants.

When did this happen, these stages between ages?

When I was kid back in the Stone Age, we were kids, teenagers and out of the house. Now adolescence goes until thirty and ten-year-olds are not kids but some sort of hybrid of a teenager and parent loving child.

They want cell phones, their childhood stuffed animal and a life size photo of Robert Pattinson above their bed.

I know it’s a confusing time for them, but how about us?

The people who it is not confusing to, is the marketers of tween products. They know that have a hungry group of consumers and they are more than willing to fill up the table with goodies for them to buy, or for us to buy and them to tweenily enjoy.

I think tweens is not an age, it’s a marketing technique and the kids love it as it takes them out of childhood, per-se, and into a quasi-teen hood, tiny teen- is the sub-text. I’m no longer the little guy you can push around. I’m my own demographic and with the merchandising to show for it.

Tweens have their own TV shows and not only that they have their own stations.  When I was a “tween”, well, I was merely ten and I watched the same three stations as the rest of the country. The closest thing we had to Tween TV was THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY and THE BRADY BUNCH and that was pretty much for the whole family.

And the good thing about those shows was they did have something for the whole family. Have you ever tried sitting through something with The Jonas Brothers?

White flag, white flag,  I will call you a Tween if I don’t have to watch.

This is not condusive to family time; I think it merely separates the family more. This I do not like.

Then there are Tween clothes that look just like yours, jeans and hoodies and Ugg boots, tee-shirts and tunic sweaters, three generations clomping around in the same outfits.

And something has been slipped in the countries water, as they all have size nine shoes so they don’t teeter around in your footware, playing dress-up, they actually fit into it. How do you tell someone they’re a little kid when they can actually fit into your shoes? It’s not easy, but I try.

And then of course now that she is tween, she keeps asking when she will get a cell phone. “I have no idea” is my response.

“If I’m a mini-teen…” – NO YOU ARE NOT, you are ten-years-old. At ten I went to bed at eight-thirty and wore mary janes. I had a picture of Sally Field as THE FLYING NUN on my wall.

But the cell phone thing is huge.

“So and so has an iPhone” is mentioned at dinner several times a week.

“Well, so and so is very lucky.  I don’t even have an iPhone.”

So and so’s parents are also getting a nasty divorce and feel so guilty they are unable to say no to so and so about anything. I say that to Glenn when the tweenmeister has left the room.

But the tweeny phone craving does not go away.

“Will I get a phone when I’m eleven?” She pleads at the market.

“No.”

“Twelve?”

“No.”

“But that is late tweens.”

So now tweens have actual stages, early, middle and late. It’s like the Ming Dynasty.

“Who would you talk to?” is my response following the no.

“You” – is the cagey smart one she whiffle balls back.

“You don’t need to talk to me, as I always know where you are.”

“But you won’t when I’m thirteen.”

“You are not thirteen, in fact as of today you are still nine!”

“But thirteen is a teenager.”

God help me.

“My final offer, final offer- twelve and a half.”

Her final offer? The kid…sorry tween, does not give up.  I should just buy her a phone and send her to law school now,  but I won’t.

She may be a tween in her own mind, but she is a ten-year-old in mine.

And it all goes so fast I am going to try and keep her as young as I can for as long as I can.

This is a bit of the barn door as she is New York City kid, with an eighteen year-old sister.

But “Pinky” still sleeps with her and she still prefers puppies  to Robert Pattinson any day.

Her cake was a giant chocolate chip cookie. And she yells “mama” in the middle of the night when she doesn’t feel well.

So does my eighteen year old actually.

But I fear for the next ten years she will continue to measure her age in fractions.

I remember the good ole days when half birthdays were a big deal and years were counted in quarters in an effort to speed things up.

But it’s impossible to explain, you have time.  For the majority of your life you will so not want to count your age in fractions.”

Hi, I’m Tracey, I’m fifty-one and two thirds.”

Maybe I can be a midsween, somewhere between middle age and senior. That’s a version of the delusional fifty is the new thirty.

But for tweens they do it in reverse, ten is the new thirteen, or so they would like you to think.

Until next Monday she is nine and the while the negotiations may continue, the more my fractions of years add up, the easier it is for me to say, NO.

I love you, but No.

Try it – it works.

Happy Birthday Lucy! We all love you even if ten is the new tween.

http://www.sweetiepierestaurant.com/

http://www.crumbs.com/

  • http://thejohnkeenan.wordpress.com John Keenan

    Great post Tracey. Your point about the marketers of tween products is so true. And it doesn’t stop. Last month, my 13-year-old daughter yelled at her mother, who was trying to instill some prudent values: “I know there’s a recession! Why do you think I’m saving for my own nose job?”

    She needs a nose job like I need hair products – not one bit.

  • tracey

    I’m sorry but that really made me laugh….
    Kids do say the darndest things.

  • Aaron H

    Tracey…………Your blogs on our cultural life and it’s aspects , your comments, satire and humor, is truly your metier and where you shine………keep on blogginh!!!

  • http://www.thevagninomonologues.blogspot.com Katie

    Great post, Tracey! I have a half-brother who is turning 13 in May and it terrifies me. I made the mistake of accepting his Facebook friend request, so I am now privy to all the tween girls who write him flirty missive and post pictures of themselves. NOT GOOD!

  • Jody Martini

    Hi Tracy:
    Just catching up on your blog. As Francesca is also turning “tween” next month we are dealing with the phone issue on a daily, if not hourly basis. Apparently our two daughters are the only ones on the Upper East and West sides of Manhattan who do not have cell phones of their own. Unfortunately this is the primary topic of all conversations recently and I am exhausted at the prospect of having to continue them for at least another year or more. Even I cannot stand to hear myself say for the hundreth time “your sister didn’t have a cell phone until she was in seventh grade and traveling around New York on her own.” I don’t even remember having these conversations when Gabriella (and Taylor) were in lower school. Had cell phones even been invented back then? I am glad to know there is someone else holding out besides me.
    Francesca loved Lucy’s birthday.

  • http://netscape.net somechickonline

    I strongly disagree with your post. Your daughter is DEFINETELY old enough for a phone. You eventually need to let her go at SOME point. Okay, let’s get 1 thing straight: TWEENS ARE NOT CHILDREN!!! Ages 8 – 12 are the tween years so your daughter is right. Stop treating her like she’s 5 years old.

  • tracey

    I approved this comment but this woman is a crackpot…..I want to say read the stats lady…they are yet to prove the safety of cell phones, especially with kids. Letting go of a child and not giving in to buying every trend, especially those whose safety records are in question are not the same thing. I also think butting into other’s business and how they raise their kids and what they choose to buy them is rather rude.
    Email when you’re eight year old with the iPhone is sixteen and we’ll see how that’s workin for ya.