The things I thought about as a mom of a younger child aren’t the things I think about now.

My son is now 12; he has grown up before my eyes. Writing this column through the past four years has made me examine his personal growth and my own personal growth as a parent.

Instead of the Tooth Fairy, I’m looking ahead to the days of driver’s education and my son’s first summer job.

He doesn’t realize it yet, but he will be working by the time he’s 14.

Instead of him watching too many Nickelodeon shows, I’m more worried that he’ll stumble upon an inappropriate website while he’s writing a paper for school. Yes, we have blocking software in place, but I still worry.

Instead of reading lots of books together at bedtime, I’ve been banished in favor of his greatest current passion: graphic novels. Graphic novels are like comic books, but it sounds better if you say “graphic novel.”

We are struggling with his obsession with what I do not consider valid reading material. At first I made him check out two “real” books for every one anime/graphic novel. But then once we got home, I realized he wasn’t reading the “real” books at all. He was delving headfirst into the graphic novels.

Instead of wondering what I should put in his lunchbox, I’m checking that he packed himself a semi-nutritious lunch.

And that he remembered to take it with him to school. And that he’s not swapping out his fruit for someone else’s cookies.

Instead of worrying about what he’s heard about discussions of Santa’s identity on the playground, I worry about which four letter words he hears on the playground or on the bus. I fret about the frank and detailed discussions we need to have — and have started to have — about sex. I need to reinforce the way our words and actions show respect to other people.

When I started writing this Renaissance Mom column, my son was 7 years old. He now needs an entirely different parenting style during his tween years than his sister needed during her tween years. I need to stretch yet again in my parenting, whether I like it or not.

Am I ready?

I’ve had great fun parenting a little kid. I hope I’m going to have great fun parenting a tween.

I’ll let you know.

Talk to Karen

Follow Karen on Twitter @KarenLeeGamble.

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