One month ago, my brave girl started middle school. It seemed especially cruel that she had to start middle school in a new city where she didn’t know anyone. She worried. I worried.
I am relieved to report that the transition has been smoother than either of us was expecting. She has grown up more in these past four weeks than she has for the past two years.
Here are some things that happened more or less overnight. In case middle school is part of your near future and you’re wondering how things might change for you, too.
She has a lot more to manage academically. After an elementary social studies curriculum that seemed to repeat, year after year, the history of Colorado and the American Revolution, she’s finally being exposed to world geography and cultures. Advanced math has been a happy challenge as well. She keeps track of all these things while also practicing her trumpet for band class and running on the cross-country team. She packs her own lunch and rides her bike to and from school each day. There are some extra personal hygiene and grooming tasks in her morning and evening routines. It’s a lot for an 11 year old to keep track of, and she’s hanging in there admirably.
Increased Electronic Gadgetry
She earned an ipod touch by mowing lawns and babysitting all summer, and access to this gadget has her connected to the outside world in new and important ways. I’ve allowed her to have a pinterest account, am considering instagram, and have so far not had to address the facebook issue with her. I’m hoping that hers will be the generation that loses interest in that particular social media outlet, and since things seem to be trending in that direction, I’m tabling that one. She does ask permission to download apps that her friends have, like “Dumb Ways to Die,” which features a catchy tune that includes the lyrics, now very popular in our house, “use your private parts as piranha bait.” In general, middle school homework seems to require much more online access than elementary homework. I can see that a tablet may be an essential educational tool in the very near future.
Decreased Family Time
The girl rides her bike down the road at 7 a.m., and because of her after school sports schedule, we don’t see her until 5 or so in the evening. She loves being this busy, loves how much social time she gets in a day, loves being part of the team. She’s happy, and I’m happy to see her happy. It just seems like so much, those 10 hours of her day that are now more or less invisible to me. It’s a relief how well she’s adjusting, but I miss her. Her brother misses her too, as he now comes home to just me, the inferior playmate, every day. I guess this is when the letting go starts, when the peer world becomes much more important than the family world, but I guess I always thought it would be a bit more gradual.
I know every family, even every kid, will have a different experience, but this is what ours is like. It’s an exciting time for her. All that worrying for nothing, which is becoming the story of my mommy life.
Next month comes her first dance ever. I’m not worried. Much.