My boy has turned into a pubert 

By Debra LoGuercio

©Copyright 1997, Debra Lo Guercio, all rights reserved

    That glowing, glaring neon sign of adolescence has begun to flicker at our house. You know the one. It says: Warning! Your darling, sweet child is transforming into an alien life form! The sign foretells that life as you know it will become a 10-year ride on Space Mountain -- sharp turns, steep climbs, heart-stopping dips, and all at high speeds and in the dark. As one bumper sticker says, "Get in, sit down, shut up and hang on."
    Puberty first bubbled to the surface at a recent trip to the shoe store. My son told me his entire social life depended on wearing a certain brand of shoes, and without them, I might as well shoot him now and put him out of his misery.

    I tried the old "If your friends judge you by what you wear, they're not really your friends" speech. He rolled his eyes to the ceiling in disgust, signifying my coronation as Queen of the Dorks.

    I was prepared to stand firm and force him to wear the sale brand, but had a flashback to a shopping trip when I tried to convince my own mother that without a pair of five-inch Baretraps platform shoes, I would be banished from every social function on campus. My mom gave in. So did I. I must have inherited her soft spot. It's located right near my wallet.

    Adolescence bubbled up again when I dropped my boy off for his first day at middle school. I leaned over to kiss his cheek, as I have every single day of his life, and he pushed me away in horror. "Not here, Mom!" he gasped, "Somebody might see!" We compromised on a cordial, businesslike handshake. I drove away with a heavy sigh. Not only am I a dork in my son's eyes, but now I have Mom Cooties as well.

    "I knew the teen years were imminent when we went to McDonald's. I began to order his usual fare, a Chicken McNugget Happy Meal. My son stepped in to correct me. He ordered adult-sized McNuggets, fries and a shake. The exact same thing that comes in a Happy Meal. For about a dollar less.

    Amazed, I pointed out that he'd only get the cute little toy with a Happy Meal. Again, I got the rolled-eyes treatment. "Mom, don't you think I'm a little old for toys?" he asked indignantly. It was like a cup of ice water in the face.

    Too old for toys. What a sad thought. I wondered if the next Christmas would be the first when I wouldn't buy any toys to put under the tree. Since he was too mature for toys, I asked him if this meant he liked girls now. He informed me that girls are stupid. I breathed a little sigh of relief. For now.

    My son is entering that awkward "Too old for toys, too young for girls" stage. Not really a child, not really a teen-ager. Some people call a child at this stage of development a "Tweenager."

    My own label for this stage in a boy's development is "pubert." There's a subtle ickiness to the word that captures the essence of an 11-year-old boy. It brings to mind images of armpit farts, loogies, and saying the Pledge of Allegiance in one long burp. The sort of behavior that drives 11-year-old girls away in disgust. Ah, yes. The Wonderful World of Hormones.

    I had a long talk with my pubert about hormones. I told him how he'd get all hairy and smelly, and sound like a frog with laryngitis. I told him testosterone would make him really itchy, as evidenced by the fact that most men seem to spend a lot of time scratching.

    I told him he'd wake up one day and be more interested in girls than video games. And when all that happened, he'd hate me for about 10 years, and think I was weird and stupid.

    "I already hate you and think you're weird and stupid," he responded, looking at me as if I were some vile strain of slime mold. But then he cracked a smile and added, "Not!" and allowed me one brief cuddle.
    A reprieve. At least for a little while. The hormones may be simmering, but they're not at full boil yet.