I seriously don’t know who is having a rougher time transitioning into middle school, my son or me. The very first day was rough. He informed me that it would be the last time I was allowed to be seen anywhere near the bus stop. I cried most of the day for the loss of my pivotal role in his world.
Where did the time go? He needs me less and less. Gone are the days of knowing my kid’s schedule and having a personal relationship with his teachers. Hell, I don’t even understand his six-day rotation or when he has lunch each day. Middle school is just a brief two year pit-stop in his life. A lot of changes are going on. In other words, my involvement in his day-to-day life is minimal unless you count chauffeuring him places, feeding him, and doing his laundry…He is growing up.
Now his social calendar is filled with Bar/Bat Mitzvahs on the weekends. We drop off, we pick up, we carpool…On two occasions the boy’s family and ours were friends so I actually got to see what was happening on the dance floor – all the while pretending that I wasn’t looking. When and where did my son learn all the dance moves? When did he become the life of the party, Mr. Popularity? He told me that he just doesn’t let himself go when I’m around. Why? Of course the mother/son dance that the DJ inevitably calls for is torture for him, while I just love it. “Look,” I say, “You don’t see any of the other boys complaining.” I marvel at the fact that he’s almost as tall as me. I hold on to him as tightly as he’ll let me.
He is evoking a need for privacy and independence like never before, while wanting me around at the same time.
- “Mom, get out of my room!” is followed by, “Mom, where are you going?” “You told me to get out of your room.”
- “Mom it’s none of your business,” is followed by, “Mom, do you want to see my finished bookcard?” and “Mom, guess what we’re learning about in English?”
It is a confusing time for sure. My little boy is even starting to use deodorant and getting acne. He is keeping his door closed more and more and requesting that I knock first before I come in.
Speaking of growing up, his friendships are changing. My friends and I, who affectionately call ourselves the “Core Four,” and vowed to always stay family friends together, are beginning to see subtle shifts. First of all, some of our kids are on different teams in Middle School. They may or may not have lunch together. Their interests and hormones are changing at an alarming rate. My son is concerned with how he dresses now, who is cool and who is not,…Cliques are forming. He is trying to find his niche. That means some old friends will fall by the wayside as new friends are acquired. It is only natural. I worry if the parents will still stay friends if the kids are not. It is definitely a challenge. Change is good though, right?
Max is now expected to be a lot more responsible and independent in various areas of his school life. He needs to know which book he will need for what class and when to go to his locker. He needs to make sure that he catches the bus on time and that he completes his assignments and turns them in on the due date. More than once, I’ve had to bail him out when he has forgotten to take a required book home. He has his friends’ backs too, but the parents still have to drive back and forth and make the arrangements because the kids never seem to answer their phones or their texts.
What’s up with that? We bought him his phone so we would know when he needed to be picked up, but now I’m not quite sure if he has the phone for our needs or his. His demand for privacy must be mediated by my demands to keep him safe.
“I must know your cell phone password at all times or I will take it away. You also MUST answer it when I call or text.”
“Isn’t that an invasion of my privacy?”
“Not as long as you live under my roof.”
“When will I be able to lead my own life without you always ‘stalking’ me?”
“When you pay your own bills or are age 25, whichever comes first!”
So here we are: me walking a fine line and him testing the boundaries between childhood and adulthood. I know I have to let him be free to make his own mistakes and learn from them. Eventually, I’ll have to stop rescuing him; let him stand or fall on his own and face the consequences. I’ll have to trust him to make the right decisions based on the morals and values that I have tried to instill in him. Isn’t good parenting supposed to be about teaching kids to leave the nest and fly successfully on their own? But I still want to give him a soft place to fall and be sure he knows I am in his corner supporting him from the sidelines. His sojourn into middle school will only be for two years. But my journey as a mom who is worried about her little boy will last a lifetime.