This is the beginning of the end of the kids' meals.
With Benjamin turning 12 next month, we will have an adult on our hands. While he technically won't be an adult, he is considered one when it comes to other areas - namely fees and costs.
We won't be able to get away with paying child prices for him at attractions, movies, festivals and community events. Those cream puffs at the state fair will cost more, a tour of Lambeau Field will set us back a few more bucks, and he no longer will be able to stuff himself at the buffet for next to nothing.
The increase in pricing comes at a time when he sees himself differently, too. So long are the days when I could pick jeans out for him from the rack of a store - any store - having a good sale. He's got an opinion on that - and nearly everything else, too. His bedtime, girls, PG-13 films, what's cool and what's not.
Children's programming at local libraries, nature centers and with park and rec departments no longer is geared toward him. I'm guessing this will be the beginning of a stretch of time where he's a bit of a floater: to old for the kiddie stuff and too young for the more mature offerings.
While the size of children's meals has been hit or miss the past year or so any way, the change in how the world sees this age group is an in-your-face reminder that they aren't little kids any more.
And with that change comes bigger bills and payout. Add it to the list, right?
So long happy meals.
- Julie Gilkay: 920-993-1000, ext. 319, or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @JulieGilkay. She is the mother of Benjamin, 11, Grace, 9, and Lucas, 8.