Middle school graduation was last week – I can’t believe how much this kid changed in one year. Who knew eighth grade would mark such significant developments. For a kid who really had one friend in middle school, she ended with a posse! In fact, her great milestone, a zillion signatures in her yearbook – compared to last year which only had signatures on one page.
Katie considers this to be her greatest 8th grade achievement. I can’t say she’s wrong. She did great academically but thankfully that’s never been that hard for her. But making new friends, that’s proven to be much more of a challenge. She likes kids who are savvy and interesting and willing to try new things. She’s not interested in stoners or followers or people who have no imagination.
She’s off and running and I find that I am the one left facing a bit of “development.”
When I brought Katie home from the hospital, swear to God, the very first week, I cried like a fool telling everyone that she was going to leave me and go to college. I’ll be damned, I was right! But the leaving is starting now. All this time I wanted her to have friends but I didn’t realize that meant I would be back on my own again.
Oh sure, I see her sometimes, but even as I write this she’s in her room, on the phone or texting. She has been out all day on a bike ride (and an early dinner – what 13 year old says that? “Hey mom, we are heading out for an ‘early dinner’ on the wharf!”). I have been home working and then cooked (well, burned) myself dinner and dove into a Stephen King book (Under the Dome – why did I think I could read 1074 pages before the series starts this week?).
Anyway, this early empty nest thing isn’t going so well for me. I am truly having a hard time. I know I’m in the final countdown. Four years of high school is going to fly by. I’m clear. It’s time I get back to having a life, doing things with my friends, maybe watch a movie. The feeling is so uncomfortable and lonely. I miss that wonderful pre-teen who used to hang out with me.
But I’m proud of her too. This is what’s she’s supposed to be doing right? Growing up. Being independent. Taking responsibility for her own life.
So we begin. The last four years. This is high school.
Now that middle school is finally coming to an end, I realized what we really went through in the last three years. For anyone just starting out: hang in there – what comes out on the other end is totally worth it.
From Home School Back to Public School
When Katie started sixth grade, fresh out of home school, she didn’t really have any friends. She bravely sat through first lunch week after week, alone. After awhile it did get to her. She admitted it was hard. Eventually, she finally met a friend and while it wasn’t perfect, it was good. Her friend was smart and shared interests and finally there was someone for Katie to hang with at lunch.Fast-forward to the spring semester of eighth grade and Katie is now on fire. That one friend got her through the winter of this year and then finally, like a curtain raised, all the girls who I would say aren’t the “popular ones”; the girls that are more introverted finally found each other. Katie has a “posse”! The kids are good kids and they have all emerged from the middle school dessert as new people. They readily admit they feel different. More ready to take on the world. To hangout and try new things. It’s clear Katie’s natural leadership qualities has been the fuel to get these kids together, but they also had to be ready. And they are! The big ice-breaker was a girl/boy bonfire at our house. At first they only wanted to plan it for two hours because everyone said they needed to get home. I quietly (ahem, I’m sure I was quiet about it), I quietly jumped in and suggested to Katie that really what was behind this rather crazy time constraint was social anxiety. She admitted I may have had a point. The get together started at 6pm at our house. A few people were late, there was much texting and then the pizzas arrived. I went and hid in my bedroom and let the good times roll. With no effort they found their rhythm and had a great time. As it neared 11pm and I had to tell them it was time to go home and they were so sad! But I was relieved. These kids had no problems. They were awesome (they even left the house clean). There’s hope!
So what I am saying is if you are living the middle school years, there’s hope. Don’t freak. The boys are complete idiots in sixth grade (I was assured by a teacher friend, this is expected) and they are just now getting it together. It absolutely correlates to testosterone. The late bloomers are still struggling. The girls are either incredibly socially competent as they enter sixth grade or they go into a kind of torpor that they will come out of as the days get longer in eighth grade. At least that’s what I observed.
I’d love to hear your experiences. It’s sad enough to remember our own middle school years – I was not popular but played consigliere to the popular girls. So much drama. Now it’s our turn to watch. What are you seeing?
Permission slips were due last Friday for the school talent show. Let’s get real, this is elementary school – how much talent can there really be? The slip specifically noted no “lip singing” which appalled me. Is there no one proofreading these documents or do they really think that means lip-synching? Anyway…
After a day of gut wrenching self analysis, my daughter decided not to try out. Her girlfriends abandoned her (not a surprise to me) and aside from desperately trying to convince me she could mime, we agreed she has no “talent” for this year’s show. Sure, the little singing and dancing act she had prepared with her friends would have been cute, but my kid is no Ashley Tisdale. Or Nicole Richie. Or, well, you get the idea. Which brings me to Twitter.
I just started Tweeting last week and I have to admit, it’s a guilty pleasure. If you are unaware of what’s going on, this Business Week article does a nice job summarizing what you have been missing. There are lots of folks who think it’s a flash in the pan, like Mark and a summary from the WTweetJ blog. But I don’t care, that’s not the point. The point is Tweeting is all about me! I have a place to publicly vent, share and use 140 characters that summarize exciting things about me! It is awesomely self-centered. I am sure if one does it enough, it might even make you go blind.
In a world where we are all just cogs in the wheel, Twitter gives you this little place where you can feel important. And the cool thing is, you can connect with others and find out they are doing things that are as unimportant as the things you are doing. And it is fun. But does it turn us into self-centered monsters?
You know who I’m talking about: like the kids who try out for American Idol who have no business wasting anyone’s time. Could it be that these kid’s parents never told them they can’t sing? At no time have their friends said; could you quiet down a bit, you are drowning out the radio? Or like my mom told me, “You’re okay Jen, but that’s a voice you might want to save for the shower!” Is today’s culture hopelessly, helplessly addicted to themselves, convinced they are worthy of Idol fame? And does Twitter give validation to this culture?
Big questions that I can’t answer, but rest assured you won’t see my kid trying out for American Idol. I am gentle. I let her down easy – ahhh the joys of parenting. I do let her know there are things she does well and but there are times when she should let the professionals, like Paris Hilton, do the heavy lifting. I am bummed she won’t be in the talent show, but seriously, does the world really need another mime?
Join me on Twitter – just keep in mind, it’s not the best forum for mimes!