Seems like middle school is a maze, literally and figuratively, that you learn to meander with time, practice and patience. Who knew learning to unlock lockers and charting out the path from his locker to his home room to other subject rooms, would turn around nervous energy into bursts of excitement. Much fun was had meeting old friends and exploring new classrooms today. One of the two items the child chose to keep in his locker room as he tested his unlocking skills is a family picture collage that I made through Shutterfly. It made me childishly happy that of all the things that he could have quickly grabbed as his comfort item, he chose us…!!!
This summer began with an air of restlessness as Hari graduated out of elementary school. Conversations were in superlatives leaving us exasperated- why do I ALWAYS have to work on have tos? This is the WORST day of my life! I NEVER get to play video games. We were caught off guard with the sudden streaks of rebellion. With some pondering and reflection, it didn’t take long to realize that I was not any different with my attitude at that age – moody, acting with an air of entitlement, this quest to be on my own, and to be well liked by my peers. May be not as vocal but the attitude was there in all its glory. So the behavior made sense as normal part of growing up. But how do we deal with it as parents? How is middle school here different from back home? What are the issues that middle school exposes the child to? The answers came in the form of Planet Middle School by Dr. Kevin Leman.
While I can’t claim to have figured it out all, the book left me with an understanding of the middle school landscape and the dynamics of middle school years. It taught me the ABCs that middle schoolers crave for – Acceptance, a sense of Belonging, a feeling of Competence. It taught me to take interest in what my child is doing and to hold back from treating it with disdain and contempt. The child will take it out on us because we are his safe haven, where he will feel comfortable enough to unload his pent up frustration. To not judge my child because he is too busy judging himself.
So much is said about the awkwardness of this age and very little about the tenderness. As I said, conversations are in superlatives. Even the good ones. He came up to me one day and said, “Amma I am very grateful to you for arranging this play date. I know you had to ask around a few times and find out who was available. I really had a good day and I am very thankful for that.” And in that instant, I completely and wholeheartedly thought to myself – for you, a thousand times over child!
Children teach us so much about the workings of the human mind and the nature of life. Turns out that the raising a child gets richer, and more rewarding as they get older.