I decided to write this blog when I was not “in it” because if I did I would certainly regret my words. So let me just say, middle school stinks. All 3 of my boys struggled in 7thgrade. I thought having boys would be easier, and maybe it is, but the ruthlessness of kids to one another is brutal. And that is outside of social media. I think that with the advent of social media some of the meanness that happens in person doesn’t get attention paid. It is easier to say something horrible on the playground and it becomes one word against another. Not always fair but this is middle school (and sadly sometimes adult life).
So add some hormones and the inevitable thinking they know everything and then add some trauma on top of that and there are days that make me think I am not going to make it.
My oldest was born with a smile on his face. He radiates joy and lights up a room wherever he goes. He was a rule-follower and had plenty of friends…until middle school. Attending a very small school meant there were only 13 boys in his grade. And when all but 3 of them hit puberty in 7thgrade it created an “us against them” mentality. Not on purpose but Sam was still a little kid and there was no space for him to have a good friend. The few that had also not hit puberty were dealing with the same thing Sam was and it created a storm of insecurity that comes out in hurtful ways. We made it through and he found his groove in high school ending up as Student Body President. Our house was full of teenagers which meant daily trips to the grocery store. This was good. There is hope.
Child number two was another story. This boy is mentally strong and smart and can do anything he puts his mind to with relative ease. In March of his 7thgrade year he announced he wasn’t going to talk anymore. Sure, I thought, this will last a day even though he is my quiet introvert. FOUR MONTHS later while playing a game he announced, “I am done” – thinking that he meant the game he meant not talking. FOUR MONTHS and this child did not say a word other than a 3 word sentence slip. No words at school, no words at home, no words. I can not imagine what precipitated this in his head but I have to know that focusing inward was less painful than participating in life. A huge shout out to the middle school administration for working through this with us. He basically did not participate in school this entire time. Sat outside the Principals office and read and because I had shared his background they worked with me to get through the year. Side note: did you know you can basically fail 7thgrade and if they think you are smart enough you can move into 8th? There is more to this but that is a story for another time.
Child number three. And this is where I am IN it! Deep in it. There is no preparation for some of this. You can read all the books and get parenting advice and mostly it just makes you feel crappy about what you are or aren’t doing as a parent. At least that is how it makes me feel. Congratulations to you parents who are great at setting all the limits and can have family meetings and blah blah blah. It is different with this one. You know those thoughts you have when they are in middle school…. the ones where you get to remember when they crawled on your lap and held your hand and you were the greatest thing ever? I don’t have that with these younger two. Because I met them at 9 and 10 I only have pre-teen, I lived in foster care most of my life angst. Not that this one isn’t loving when he wants to be but I don’t get to pull that memory out during the really tough times. The “I hate you” and the” I don’t care” and the “F you” moments will not last, but they don’t get to be cushioned by the sweet childhood memories. I went to pick him up after school the other day and he was in the Principal’s office. He had called someone a derogatory name (and strongly attempting to argue his case which prompted the assistant principal to tell me he should think about becoming an attorney, a sentiment with which I agree because of his insane ability to argue everything with me). In this conversation he shared that he had been called a “slave” at school. A SLAVE…2019. He also won’t let me use his name when he is playing online video games (no judgement please) because he says if they know he is black some of them call him the n word. So yes, again, middle school stinks.
Yet I know we get through it and all the hormones and trauma will be healed. I know that there is someone larger than me in charge. I know that God is calling me to rely on His power, not my own because my own isn’t nearly sufficient enough to raise these boys. Not even close. So I push through and am thankful for my tribe that I count on when I need to and am thankful that middle school is a one time deal. Because middle school stinks.
p.s. Literally as I am typing this I am getting an email from the Assistant Principal about #3’s behavior at school. He has decided he is giving up on school which manifested itself in him being completely disruptive. Lord help me.