The middle school orientation for kids and parents are done. Hari has made his choice of elective courses,which is pretty straightforward for the first year. Enticed by the prospect of being served Mexican food and a possible trip to Puerto Rico, the child has signed up for Spanish. Between drama and band, he chose band as he has made progress learning trumpet this season.
There is a tug of war happening at home. Hari thinks that with middle school he will be the master of his universe, and we are overwhelmed with this fierce push for freedom and independence.
I have been talking to a lot of middle school parents and kids just to get a sense for what is in store. As much as I would love for my kid to be true to himself and not agonize over fitting in, standing out petrifies him. A middle schooler in This American Life podcast hit the nail on the head when he was asked what made middle school challenging “You get judged by everyone in middle school”. Snapchat and social media are huge I hear. Parents have advised setting clear cut rules for cell phone use and have them signed by the child. Keep talking to him a lot, advised another parent as that’s the biggest challenge with middle schoolers – they shut themselves. A newspaper article pointed out that parents are less confident in their parenting in middle school, as they don’t have the support group that they have in elementary school.
Deep down we see that Hari is still a tender child. We see reserves of innocence, and the need for parental approval and appreciation. We can sense a rebellious streak but we also see that the child has a conscience. We are looking forward to meandering the maze of middle school years with the child, with empathy, without judgment, by being open and honest.