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Friday, February 15, 2013

Molding the Tweenage Dream and Why Having a Little Stage Mom in Us All is a Good Thing

I am a mother of a Tweenager. It is true. Though it is quite difficult for me to wrap my still trapped in my 20's brain around that fact, it's happening.  Oh, baby, it's happened.  I'm thinking I might have a clue, but if my expectations of what Motherhood is supposed to be compared to what it actually entails is any indicator at gauging what I am in for,
I'm screwed Sisters.

What I know thus far is that the Tweenager is an interesting species.  They eat, like, a lot. They sleep like, a lot.  They have a fierce fondness towards their hair (thank you Biebs)...

I could go on and on here.

I'd like to believe that my Tweenager son is different than the rest of his kind.  He is extremely devoted to his sisters, loves and appreciates all genres of music (this includes mine),  still allows me to hug and kiss him in public, respects his elders, and generally tries super hard to do the right thing.  But, in talking to other mothers of tweens, I am beginning to realize there is  a common trend in terms of the dressing of said male creatures: 

They don't give a S%^#.

It could be 30 degrees and we have a date to a funeral and my son would try and escape the house in an undershirt and shorts.  It's as if, in his mind, he is on a constant vacay in Cabo.  And I'm not alone.  I know I'm not.  But this has become a real problem as my reputation as a good mother is on the line.  Neighbors see my son shivering in the middle of winter while waiting for the bus- his bare skinny basketball battle worn legs exposed to the elements and bitterly chastize a mother that would allow such a thing to transpire.  'Doesn't she know it is the middle of winter?' they may ask themselves incredulously.  
Why yes, yes she does.

I thought he might learn from freezing his ear lobes off.  I thought he might turn some sort of fashion corner, but he did not. 

I tried the begging, the pleading, the threatening, even the bribing techniques (gasp), but to no avail.

I even hid his t-shirts for awhile, but was soon found out.

The truth is, I have always encouraged my children to develop their own style.  My daughters have gone off, proudly to school, looking like mini bag ladies that have layered every article of clothing in every pattern available onto their bodies.

If he had shown signs in his clothing choices that appeared to have some resemblance to an obvious effort of cognitively putting something together, I would have laid off slightly; but he did not.  It always seemed to look like he went for the tshirt at the very bottom  of his laundry bin.

A little stain on the front?  Meh.

Stretched out collar?  Great!

Then the worrying/ neurotic mother gene kicked in.  Perhaps he is depressed?  Perhaps he doesn't love himself enough to care?  Perhaps the stained/stretched out shirt is an outwardly expression of how he feels inside..?



E has always been well liked and self confident.  He enjoys his school life.  He enjoys his home life. And although we have weathered through some pretty difficult times in his young life, he is a very happy and well adjusted 12 year old boy.

I knew that I needed to dig deep with this one, and figure out a way in which I could train this beast into seeing the benefits of properly outfitting oneself. The right way.  My way.  (Insert evil witch cackle here)  But how?

And then it hit me.

This guy needs a little representation!

When I was a senior in high school I received a letter in the mail from the State of Washington asking me to try out to win a chance at representing my current state in the Miss Teen USA pageant.  I was thrilled and extremely flattered.  Although I knew I wouldn't be able to participate with my volleyball scholarship to prepare for, I was riding pretty high. I pondered, how had they heard of me?  When I showed my parents- my father, especially, was clearly very excited.  He claimed he didn't know, but speculated that perhaps word had passed to them from some unknown source of my unearthly beauty and wide ranging talents.  If unearthly meant stainless steel on my teeth and talents meant hitting a ball into the ground, then most definitely I had this thing in the bag.  

Starved as I was for any compliments that might stave my insecure teenage awekwardness I bought it hook, line, and sinker.  It was only until years later, married, with a child that this conversation came back to light.  At which point my father informed me that he had filled out all of the paperwork for the pageant and had sent it in for me.  This act, among many others by my father, is why I love that Big Man so.  It made a huge impact on me.

We are our children's advocates. Always and in everything until they are old enough to represent themselves.  In their early years especially they need all of the success they can possibly ascertain to stash away in their tool belts of possibility.

So I needed to get back to my roots and start promoting my little buddy again!  E and I have experienced many victories and some good old tries that didn't quite make the cut over his life together. When E was a little guy we did some modeling in Japan and I represented him.  I was his agent.  His partner.  His liason between his sweet self and the money grubbing sharks in the industry.  His Stage Mom, in a sense, though after the Honey Boo Boos and Lindsey Lohan Parent train wrecks, that name has become...unsavory...  As a result he was very successful and extremely happy and content with his working situation at the time.  When he came to me in 3rd grade and expressed a desire to compete for class president, HELLZ ya, I represented him then as well.  We spent a week toiling over ideas that would help him to achieve his goals.  I helped him with signs and buttons. Our home became E's campaign headquarters and was a buzz with presidential excitement.   E became commander and chief of his 3rd grade class. Lunch time detail and classroom attendance was his forte.  He was in heaven.  When he missed out in the lottery to go to the magnet middle school he wanted to, I encouraged him to dig his heals in and apply for the few extra spots they had available for those willing to go through the interview process.  I asked him probing questions about the required essay subject he was to submit, we checked out books on the school and its Legacy, and although E still did not make it in, he had tried.  His very best.  And I had been there cheering and encouraging him along the way.

So with this clothing sitch, it wasn't that the desire wasn't there, he just needed a little representation.  A STYLIST!

OOooooOOOOOOoooh, you don't know how excited this idea made me, but I realized I needed to approach this cautiously and with care.  I couldn't alarm the fragile Tweenage beast with my excitement before I had properly laid out a good and solid foundation in which to execute my plan.

One evening while at my laptop I googled "teenage heart throbs".  MMmmmhm, Oh yes, I did.  I was inundated with articles and images of tons of prepubescent teenage lover boys.  I got everything from The Biebs, to Harry Styles, to...well a bunch of other relatively facially hairless boys the girls are pinning up on their bedroom walls these days.  Snagging photos of these celebs in asunderous fashionable ensembles and attaching these to a spreadsheet that was pleasing and acceptable (making sure to delete "teenage heart throbs" from the search engine),  I called E over.

"What do you think about these outfits, " I asked him in as nonchalant of a voice as I could muster.

Photo Credit:  http://fashionable-harry.tumblr.com/post/22475929541


Photo Credit:  http://zacefronfashionstyle.tumblr.com/tagged/2008/page/3


Photo Credit:   http://www.runwaynewyork.com/gallery2/d/6460-1/justin-bieber-fashion-001.jpg
"Those are nice.  I like them. " He says sitting down next to me.

(Oh, ya, I've got this...)

"Well, I can't help but notice that you have most of these clothing pieces in your closet, upstairs.  What do you say I put a few outfits together for you and I can be, like,  your stylist for a week and we can see how it goes and how you feel wearing them."

(EEEEEEk, crossing my fingers I get the job...!!!)

"Sure, Mom.  That sounds great."

(Whooosh,  yes, Immma BOSS!)

And that was all it took!  Easy peesy lemon squeezy. 

It's been a few weeks since then and it's going well.  We have had a few tshirt setbacks in which he has come downstairs in the morning with only an undershirt on, but when reminded, happily goes back upstairs to find something that promotes who he is and what he represents a little better.

So I encourage you sweet peeps to tap into your inner Stage Mother.  Promote the hell outta those kids.  Give them enough success that they know and understand that feeling and the work it takes intimately. So far it's paying off for me.  
To be continued...

Song of the day (Oh, ya, you knew this was coming):  http://youtu.be/R4em3LKQCAQ


  1. So awesome. And how sweet of your dad! True love: advocating for your kids when they don't even know it.

  2. Thanks so much for reading and your comments, Laurel! My Dad was my #1 fan growing up and I definitely needed it. A lot of times, when I was younger it had me rolling my eyes; but when I find out about these sweet, secret, sincere acts of devotion and love I am completely overcome. He's a great one! - And you know what? Even after all I've put him through over the years he STILL is one of my biggest supporters and fans. He is constantly bragging about me to family and friends to the point where it is almost embarrassing. Like, what the hell have I done, really? To be honest, I still need it and love it. I'm eternally grateful for that Man. :)