It's official. I am now mom to a 12-year-old. Which means my gamer, my Aspie, my first-born, is now an honest-to-goodness tween.
This is how I know.
He's dating. He met a girl and thought she was cute. He brought her a flower and told her he liked her. He asked me if he could ask her out, and when he did, this girl displayed remarkably good judgment and said yes. We all went on their date together (because that kid's not dating for real until he's at least 16). And, when we took her home, her mom invited us all on a second date.
I think that means I'm dating her mom now.
He doesn't cuss. Although he certainly knows how. He proved that to me by listing pretty much every cuss word ever invented, matter-of-factly, while we were wandering down the bread aisle in the grocery store. He surprised a whole lot of shoppers. But he's never once uttered a single bad word in front of his brother or sister. Which shows remarkable restraint and - dare I say it? - maturity.
He asked me how people have sex. How. That's a practical, logistical question, which is far scarier than the amorphous "where do babies come from" you prepare yourself for. He immediately distracted himself in the way that only kids with ADHD can ("I don't have ADH ... hey, is that a dust mote?"). But I need to answer. At least, I think I do.
He's warm-hearted and generous and responsible. He's the only one in the house who remembers what day the garbage truck comes. He can even change his own sheets, though he needs to be reminded to do it.
He helps me. He helps his siblings. He's brilliant with little kids. And, when he figures out someone is sad or hurting (which is often easier said than done), he's the king of empathy and kindness and hugs.
He's growing up.
Except that when I look at him, all I see is the squirmy, slimy bundle I gave birth to. The baby who laughed like an old man whenever I sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the dog. The little professor who would play hide-and-seek only if we skip-counted by 3s, who could read before he was three, and who, for a whole year, made everyone call him "Peabo."
At least Peabo is still shorter than I am. And he still believes in Santa Claus. At least, he pretends he does. And, since I'm busily pretending he's Peter Pan, that's good enough for me.
* I drafted this on October 19, so I'm publishing it effective that date ... even though it's not actually October 19 anymore. It's November.
Happy belated birthday, kiddo.