Recently, my son turned 12. This milestone was pretty uneventful. Not much changed. He still wants a hug before bed. He still blushes when I say something off-color (on purpose to make him blush). He's almost as tall as I am, but he's been working on that for years.
But there have been some subtle changes that could slip by if one wasn't paying attention. There's an occasional sharpness in his response to my reminding him of something. He's a little more conscious of what he's wearing (if not necessarily how clean he is when wearing it). His reading material is getting more complicated and has adult ideas in it. His favorite TV show is no longer "Transformers," but "How I Met Your Mother."
He's learning to handle things. It hasn't been the best year at school, but he has worked hard to make it at least productive. I got him into another school for next year and he's grateful - but knew he'd have to stick it out for the rest of the year where he was. And he rose to that challenge admirably, in spite of some really not great days.
Today, he was rewarded for being an outstanding citizen at school with a field trip to a local bowling alley. There was a screw up with the buses and half the kids were left waiting at the park until more buses could come get them. He called me just to chat (I let him take his phone to school for this one day) while he was waiting and at the end of our conversation, I said my usual "I love you." There was a long pause on his end during which I imagine he fought the automatic response as his peers ran around near him. Finally, he responded, "Ditto."
I laughed and said goodbye, letting him know that I understood where he was. He also said goodbye and we hung up. Then I cried. Just a little. My baby boy is gone.