It feels like only yesterday that my beautiful baby boy was cooing in my arms, his tuft of blonde hair and huge green eyes staring up at me as if I was the only girl in the world.
Ever since he was tiny, when he would toddle about in his 'Mummy's new man' T-shirt and plant snot-strewn kisses all over my face, to the later years when he would cuddle up for a story or slip his sticky paw into mine as we walked home from school, my boy wonder has only had eyes for me.
Twelve years later, it seems I'm no longer the only woman in his life. That's right, mummy's little prince has discovered the wonderful world of girls.
It all started last month when a young girl came to the door asking for my boy. Now I won't embarrass him by plastering his name across the internet (he would kill me if he found out I was writing about his burgeoning love life), instead I shall call him Ted.
One Saturday afternoon, a shiny-faced young girl knocked at the door and politely asked if Ted was around.
Within seconds, my pre-teen son boulders through the house in a cloud of Lynx Africa and with a 's'later' said in a voice deeper than usual, he was gone.
My little soldier out with another woman. I was bereft.But according to his dad, this heightened interest in the fairer sex has been on the cards for quite some time.
As a mother, I should have spotted the signs; the unprompted showers, the cloud of musky man-spray detonating from the bathroom each morning, not to mention an increased interest in hair and fashion.
Ted started secondary school last year and as the months went on, his post-school chat would be peppered with girls' names.He'd spend hours on Instagram, uploading selfies of himself trying out a manufactured sneer or 'liking' friends' photos and blushing with pleasure when a girl liked his.
At a recent barbecue, I witnessed him strutting around a friend's 13-year old daughter like a Converse-wearing peacock, wooing her with sweets, making her laugh and generally trying to adopt an air of cool.
As I went to grill him on his afternoon, his dad warned me off. 'Leave the lad alone,' he said with a more than wistful look in his eye as he remembered himself in his pre-teen prime.
"Don't question him, just play it down. And don't ask if she's his girlfriend. He'll be mortified."
His younger sisters weren't so restrained. 'Did you kiss her?' they giggled, jumping up and down and clapping their hands with glee. 'Are you going to marry her?' they teased, before breaking into a chorus of 'Emily and Ted sitting in a tree...'.
"When I was his age having a girlfriend was more about status than love" says Rob, a friend who also has a 12-year old son. "We never really did anything, it was all about looking cool and impressing your mates."
Ted says that a few boys in his class are starting to have girlfriends, but it's not really anything serious. "They don't even sit together, let alone kiss!" he says, with a mild look of horror on his face.
"It all starts to gear up when they reach puberty," says Rob. "It's about 13 or 14 when boys really start to take the prospect of girlfriends more seriously."
And so it begins.
While I think we're a little way off welcoming the first girlfriend into the family nest, I fear the heady rollercoaster of love and teenage angst is almost upon us.
And when it does hit us, I'll try my best to deal with it with love and compassion, he's still my little prince, after all.
Dos and Don'ts for handling a teen romance
Do work at keeping an open relationship between you and your son. Puberty is an emotional time and he's going to have a lot of questions about sex, girls and how he himself is changing, so having a friendly ear is crucial.
Don't make fun. Adolescence is a painful enough time without guffawing parents making kissy noises behind your back.
Do encourage his individual style. All kids want at this age is to be carbon copy of their mates, but encouraging individuality will give him some much needed confidence.
Don't buy a hat just yet. Girlfriends (or boyfriends) will come and go. Just try not to judge him when he introduces his latest beau as a death metal groupie with facial tattoos.
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