By Holly Rizzuto Palker of hollyrizzutopalker.com
“How was middle school orientation?” you asked the other day when I returned. The look of hope in your eager eyes, my sweet girl, was so pure that I had to take a breath and think before I misspoke.
I wanted to tell you that when I wandered into the auditorium, I felt jittery, like it was my first day. But I wasn’t the student, I was your parent, and that made it even more nerve wracking.
I wanted to tell you that being the mom of a tween who is starting 6th grade is horror movie scary. But, I told you that the orientation was exciting.
I wanted to tell you that I was intimidated when I saw the cool moms who’ve already been through it with older siblings sitting in the back row of the auditorium, sipping coffee and looking at ease. I wanted to tell you that I longed to be chill and sit with them. I didn’t tell you that instead, I sat in the front row and took copious notes – the names of school administrators and a schedule of classes – to help you because I otherwise felt awkward. But, I told you not to worry because we’ve got this.
I wanted to tell you that when you cried because one of your best friends is starting a different junior high, I was deflated because I know it is tough to make new friends. I wanted to tell you that although I’ll be your safety net, I can’t control your experiences. But, I told you it will all work out.
I wanted to tell you that middle school is really big and impersonal compared to elementary. No more coddling. I wanted to tell you that even though they’ll treat you like more of a grown up, I believe you still deserve tenderness. But, I told you that you’ll encounter dynamic teachers and that we’ll still uncover unique moments.
I wanted to tell you that the eighth graders (especially the girls) appear much older than in my day. They look like they should be in high school. I wanted to tell you that girls develop a lot earlier than boys and to watch out because our suburban middle school has been dubbed the ‘hormone highway.’ I wanted to tell you to stay away from those boys. But, I told you that I’ll teach you the delicate art of growing into a woman.
I wanted to tell you that there is no recess in middle school. Your school doesn’t even have a playground. I wanted to tell you that I think that’s sad because in my eyes, you are still just a child. But, I told you that I’ll play outside with you any time you honor me by asking.
I wanted to tell you that we only have three short years left until high school. That’s less than the six years you spent in elementary and those have flown by so fast that I’m still running to catch up. I wanted to tell you that once it’s all over, you’ll be a teenager and never again my little baby girl. I wanted to tell you that I don’t want to let go of you, not ever. But, I told you that I’ll buckle up for the roller coaster ride and make sure I’m right there alongside you the entire way (although I’m not sure you were too happy about that one). So, I added that I’ll fall back when you need your space even though saying it made my heart ache.
I wanted to tell you that middle school is nothing more than a phase of our lives. There will be so many more phases. The same way your baby years were a blip that we’ll never get back again. I wanted to tell you, sure, we can sneak up to the attic one day and open your middle school bin (we’ll create one as a memory capsule) the same way I did with your baby clothes, but it won’t change anything because those memories will never tell the stories exactly as they happened.
But, instead, I told you that middle school will be incredible because right now it is the most important thing in your life, and you are going to rock it.
About the Author
Holly teaches drama and creative play to pre-school children and she is also raising three of her own dramatic children, a husband, and a dog. Follow Holly on hollyrizzutopalker.com, and on Facebook and Twitter.