Once in a while, I’m reminded at how my younger son really is a tween — that awkward age between a child and a teenager.

Not quite 12, he is just a bit shorter than I am. His voice is growing deeper and his shoulders broader. He used to want me to leave the hall light on until he fell asleep. Now he goes to bed and shuts the door.

On the shelf where he used to have action figures, he now has cologne and deodorant. He tries on different hats, shirts and jeans, trying to get the right look.

But just when I worry that he is growing up too fast, I’m reminded that he’s still a kid. Last week when I went to the grocery store, he asked if I would buy him dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets and smiley-faced French fries.

Another day, I saw the action figures lying out on his bed. I know it won’t be long before they are packed away for good, but it was nice to see them again.

Liz Atwood is a former Baltimore Sun features editor who teachers journalism at Hood College. She is the mother of two sons, ages 11 and 16.