Finding Ninee » Sharing our parenting and special needs stories with heart and humor.

Once, We Were Eleven Years Old

“Mommy,” he says. I hear hesitation in my son’s voice, and so I hesitate. “Be mindful. Think before answering,” the angel on my shoulder whispers.
“Good Gawd, WHAT NOW?” the devil on my other huffs.

We haven’t had much school this week, so I patted each on the head and shushed them. We’re each a bit too-housebound from this week’s snow days and delays. 

“Yeah, Buddy? What’s up?”


And then, nothing.

“What’s up, Baby?”

“You might not like this question.”

The angel bounced, remembering that once, we were asked zero questions, and held up a memory of me dancing to the music of my little boy’s voice.

I like that memory. I smiled. Remembered that once, I’d have traded my own words to hear my son speak.

The devil sighed, and told me to get to it already because if the kid thinks we “won’t like it?” He’s right. We rarely do, when questions are foreshadowed that way. 

“So, um, how old do I need to be to ask if I can play a game with guns on the iPad?” he looks down, already knowing.

The angel and the devil wait, knowing that the answer is complicated.

“Crap,” I think, but don’t say because that will become an entirely different conversation about when he can say “crap” out loud and about how so-and-so at school said something worse (which in this house, may be the word “ugly,” which we’ve deemed a much more taboo word than “crap”).

He looks up, and says, “I already know. I have to be 11 years old, and then we’ll talk about it. Does that mean you’ll still say no when I’m 11?”

“I don’t know, Buddy,” I say, and hug him.

He doesn’t hug me back the same way he usually does. I wonder why he wants to play these games, but already know.

YouTubers tell him these games are cool, and fun. I think about what I knew when I was 11 years old.


It was 1979 (OMG) the year I was 11. Gas cost less than $1.00 per gallon, and feathered hair was cool.

Disco may have been on the way out, but I’d only recently discovered the Bee Gees. I played the song Tragedy on repeat in my bedroom because that was the year I asked my mom for my first bra after kids at soccer practice pretended to love my Harriet Fringe Shirt but were really laughing at my little bra-less nubs.

I wasn’t sure whether I was supposed to be interested in boys, but I don’t think I was actually interested in them for anything more than friendship. I don’t think I needed anything more from them than a “you’re okay to hang with,” which was what I needed from all peers back then.

Being 11 is so different now than it was when I was a kid. Back then, we didn’t have cell phones or iPads. We had radio stations dialed into on gigantic stereos. We had tapes to record our favorite songs.

We had bicycles to ride to Walgreens or wherever to buy a new album, and we had to buy the entire album, or a 45 that we had little plastic things to make them play ok on a regular record player.

We had innocence and being outside until dark, and we had riding in the way back of Grandma’s station wagon.

Riding in the back back of grandma

We didn’t really have inclusion though. I don’t remember having any kids in class who needed support. I don’t remember seeing kids in wheelchairs leaving for the bus a few minutes early.

I guess we trade awareness for not being aware, sometimes.

Back then, we weren’t as aware of our peers with special needs, and yet, we knew each weak spot in our backyard fences.

We knew the neighborhood, and what most of their houses smelled like. We knew who had Twinkies, and who didn’t allow soda at home (my mom didn’t ever have Twinkies or soda, so maybe that’s a me-thing).

We knew which kid has his bike stolen, and kept an eye out for it.


I don’t know what the 11 year olds in my neighborhood today do, really. My son is seven, and I know that limiting screen time is a real thing, and that on snow days, each parent faces angels and devils on their shoulders. They whisper and shout about dinner plans, fast food, YouTubers, and not being outside enough.

I know that the 11 year olds that I know are more socially aware than I was. They recycle, have friends with two moms or two dads, know a kid with autism, know a kid who was adopted, and have bi-racial friends. The seven and 11 year olds I know today have the gift of inclusion at school, and have the world-knowledge that we didn’t just not have, but never thought about, at least where I grew up.

They also have social media, and they have feeling fat or wanting a man-bun (my son) because a YouTuber that they admire has a man bun, so it “must be” cool.

Maybe not all that much has changed. It’s peers, but it’s a bigger world. Maybe, in this whole back-to-the-crappy president being a racist thing, having a bigger world is better.

Still though, I’m not sure about allowing my son iPad games with guns will EVER happen, even when he’s 11 years old.

What was the world like when you were 11 years old?

This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post, and this week’s sentence is “When I was 11 years old…”


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  • Echo - Things were so different from my 11 to my son’s 11. Yes, he just turned 11, oh my god!

    He wants and craves different things and yet, I see similarities at the same time. I also see the differences in the way I grew up vs the way he is growing up.

    By 11, I was taking care of myself while my mom, who was a single mom, worked. My son, has me to take care of him and I am lucky enough to be a stay at home mom.March 17, 2017 – 9:27 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I’m so glad you get to be there for your 11, too. That’s huge and you’re an awesome mom. One of these days, we’ll have to compare childhood stuff. Because knowing how to ride the lightning is but one thing we have in common.March 17, 2017 – 9:12 pmReplyCancel

  • Emily - I wish I could remember what I was doing/saying/feeling when I was 11…I do remember childhood, but have no idea how old I was in certain memories…oh well. And those UTubers – ugh. My middle dude is actually friends with a You Tuber who is local and went to his high school. He now goes to online high school so he can focus on his U Tube “career” — for real! And Little dude watches the U Tube videos all the time. He said to me today he thinks that would be a “dream job.” I spent 20 minutes telling him why I thought it would NOT be a dream job…not sure my message got through!March 17, 2017 – 5:03 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - The YouTubers thing is CRAZY! The guy we’re seeing in April is DanTDM and it’s like concert ticket prices. Seriously this kid is 25 years old and he’s famous and rich. Because he plays Minecraft on YouTube. GAH. I can’t believe Middle Dude’s friend goes to online high school so he can focus on his career! OMG the world is so different from when I was young. I’ll bet a photo album would totally jog your memory. For me, I have to remember what grade I was in and then I can remember stuff about that particular age, if that makes sense.March 17, 2017 – 9:20 pmReplyCancel

  • Allie G smith - How sad is it that I really don’t recall being 11? I think I’d have to look at a photo album to jog my memory. And I don’t let my kids play the gun games, although I swear, every other parent does. So, I know they do at friends houses, but not mine.March 17, 2017 – 5:58 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Look at an album! I’d love to see 11yo Allie. For me, I think about what grade I was in, and then I can think about what I was doing, who my friends were, etc. The gun games SUCK. I can’t believe how often Tucker sees ads for them in otherwise totally kid-appropriate content. Ugh.March 17, 2017 – 9:22 pmReplyCancel

  • Kerry - I can’t believe how big a thing YouTube is becoming, and those who’ve discovered how to make a living off of it. Such a change from when we were young.

    That whole scene with your son asking his question is one of those signs of growing up. I am sure you felt that. They want to have more and more experiences that seem premature. I can’t even believe it, in my six-year-old niece. Kids these days. Oh my…I feel so old saying/thinking that.

    I don’t know why guns are such a draw for them though.

    When I was eleven, dating a boy wasn’t even on my radar. I would look at all the girls and boys in my class, those who claimed to be bf/gf and I would think how silly it was, but I had other things, less carefree, on my mind at that age, unfortunately. If things had been different for me, physically and medically, who knows, but I was the shy and quiet girl, so I doubt it.

    Sweet and bittersweet post this week Kristi and thanks for the mention of soda/pop, as a starter topic for what I ended up writing this week. Glad I could join this time.March 18, 2017 – 10:28 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I just read yours and WOW. You did an amazing job of painting what 11 was like for you. Seriously good job (as I said in my comment at your place, too). YouTube – it’s strange how huge it is. I can see how kids think they’ll become YouTubers as a job but to me, I feel like it’s the next “I want to go to Hollywood to become an actor” or whatever… And yeah, we’re old. LOL, we’re not old. I’m oldish and you’re young, and Tucker and your niece and nephew are babies 🙂
      I think about my step mom talking about the older people they know, including her siblings. And she’s right – they were in their 80’s at the time, she and my dad in their 70’s. Old is relative.
      We called it pop in Colorado, too. It’s here that it’s become soda. I still say pop. My son says soda. He hates it either way. I still love it both of the ways.March 18, 2017 – 9:45 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - PS I love how sometimes, the inspiration has nothing to do with the sentence but of a whisper of a memory, like soda/pop.March 18, 2017 – 9:45 pmReplyCancel

  • Kenya G. Johnson - I had so much freedom at 11 and even younger than that when we lived in an apartment I roamed all over the place. My parents had no idea where I was. I can remember telling Christopher “no” to riding his bike just around the corner from us, a house that I can’t see. And what I was thinking is, I don’t feel like worrying about you being around the corner.

    Christopher has been a youtube fan for quite awhile. I don’t know if I introduced it to him or not, but I regretted him getting into it. Sometimes the things that appear in the sidebar are inappropriate.

    My “no” to guns in video games is now “okaaaaay” as long as it’s not the kind of game where you can shoot somebody and and see blood.

    Sucks that I didn’t make it to FTSF. I know I still have time. But I’m in wine and wind down get ready for the week mode.March 19, 2017 – 8:25 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I know exactly what you mean about not wanting to worry about him being around the corner. Out of site is scary! But yeah, my parents had no idea where we were as kids. None. I’m not sure what’s better – I guess there are reasons (abductions in the 80’s maybe and stories about the windowless vans and poisoned candy…but knowing this also feels like childhood is less innocent today. Maybe it’s not as much about freedom to roam as it is the exposure to YouTube, etc.
      LOL to “wine and wind down” mode! 🙂 I hear you!March 22, 2017 – 11:40 amReplyCancel

  • Lisa @ The Meaning of Me - I have that song stuck in my head now…it drives me crazy. Zilla likes it but I do not. 😀
    I truly couldnt’ come up with a thing for this prompt! But I love yours, always. I’ll get back next week. xoMarch 20, 2017 – 12:35 pmReplyCancel

    • Lisa @ The Meaning of Me - Oh, and the guns on games thing? Yeah. Tough one. We keep that stuff out of her consciousness and she hasn’t asked. Only place that happens is in some game she plays with her dad where they shoot a gun at a wall and it makes a portal open up. But not at people, etc. And she does know of things like bow/arrow etc. from like Lord of the Rings and Heroscape and D&D. But guns hasn’t crept in.March 20, 2017 – 12:37 pmReplyCancel

      • Kristi Campbell - I’m glad guns haven’t crept in for you all yet. It’s hard to know what’s actually innocent and what’s going to be harmful. Like, I always think Minecraft is tame but they have to kill sheep and stuff to survive. Not that tame. Except it’s all pixels? Does that make it better? I don’t know…March 22, 2017 – 11:42 amReplyCancel

        • Lisa @ The Meaning of Me - I’m so glad to have my Husband the video game king because he always either knows what will be OK or can check it out. Handy, that guy.
          With the sheep, I don’t think that one would worry me. That’s natural – people kill animals for food. If that’s what they’re doing, then that seems reasonable. Except for the sheep!
          I suppose it depends on how it’s presented. Zilla has never gotten into Minecraft so that one we aren’t terribly familiar with.March 22, 2017 – 12:56 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Tucker likes that song, too! Ugh!March 22, 2017 – 11:41 amReplyCancel

      • Lisa @ The Meaning of Me - What IS it with kids and that song? I completely don’t get why they like it. Last school year the boys in Z.’s second grade class sang it all the time and bothered the girls with it, apparently. That’s when I first heard it. Zilla said she didn’t like it, but I think it was mostly because she had no idea what they were singing – or just because it’s second grade and girls hate everything the boys do. Guess it grew on her, because now when it’s on the radio, she makes me leave it on.March 22, 2017 – 12:51 pmReplyCancel

  • Marcia @ memopausal Mother - This made me very nostalgic for my past. Very well written. I honestly believe that YouTube and social media are disrupting the innocence of our children. They see and hear too much nowadays.March 20, 2017 – 9:36 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thank you Marcia! And yeah, YouTube can so completely be a place to stumble on things we don’t want them to see – I have the settings on max level for PG but still, things creep up in the sidelines. I guess I’m lucky so far that he’s not on social media. Gah.March 22, 2017 – 11:43 amReplyCancel

  • wells fargo login - Excellent blog you have got here.. It’s difficult to find
    excellent writing like yours nowadays. I seriously appreciate individuals like you!
    Take care!!March 22, 2017 – 9:17 amReplyCancel

  • My Inner Chick - —-OMgosh,
    you always make me think and remember and reflect…
    At 11, I was probably on my bunk bed reading Plath
    wondering what the meaning of life was.
    Love and Kiss from Duluth. xxMarch 23, 2017 – 10:27 pmReplyCancel

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