A collective gasp sucked the air out of the elementary school library when the middle school counselor said “2022.”
It was the first time that many of us had associated our 5th graders with those numbers–as in the graduating class of.
The mom on my right put her head on the table, the dad on my left shook his head in disbelief, I took the “too shocked to respond” approach and sat in stunned silence.
You mean to tell me that my daughter is going to graduate high school and leave home?! That the 10-year-old at home in her butterfly bedroom playing with dolls is going to be GROWN UP?! Didn’t the little stump from her umbilical cord just fall out to reveal her belly button?!? (BTW: If you think revealing one’s belly button for the first time should only be mentioned in conjunction with the name “Taylor Swift,” you should probably be reading a different post–pass this one along to your mother)
Sure, they tell you your kids are going to grow up, but a lot of moms (myself included) don’t really believe it.
Out of the 100 or so families of 5th graders at my daughters’ elementary school, less than a dozen were represented at the PTA program on “Transitioning to Middle School.” We are the parents who are accused of hovering over our child like a helicopter as they make their way through life. We hang out before and/or after school to talk to our child’s teacher, in fact we know their coffee order because we meet with them so often.
Maybe it’s because our child is different (#stayweird), maybe they struggle with being organized or being social or just being. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s the parent that has an issue. Most likely it’s a combination of both.
Every year since my now-5th grader entered preschool, I’ve gotten a call or e-mail from her teacher a week or two after classes commenced. They all begin, “Hi, I’m Mrs./Ms./Miss/Mr. XYZ and I need to talk to you about Chloe….”.
Chloe is brilliant, she wants to do things in her own way, she’s off in her own little world and rest of us, teachers included, are just visiting. This makes her equal parts awesome and a real “challenge” (although a variety of other more colorful words have been used to describe her) to deal with. Therefore, I have had a close, personal relationship with all of her homeroom teachers. These relationships involve not only early morning coffee meetings, but many late night e-mail exchanges.
Next year she won’t have a homeroom teacher. Next year she’ll take the bus, so I won’t be peeking my head in the classroom door before of after school. Next year will be awesome for her and traumatic for me and parents like me.
It doesn’t help that “middle school” starts a year earlier than it did when I was a near-teen going off to 7th grade in “junior high.” Chloe’s birthday is in August, so she’ll turn 11 about a week before her first day of middle school. I’ll still do her hair in the morning, cut the apples in her lunch and include a note about how proud I am of her.
I know it’s time to let go, to see what she’s learned about being responsible for her own schoolwork and social life. I know, I know–but that doesn’t mean I’m happy about it.
I’ll try my best to let go, because that’s best for my daughter–but odds are I’ll still know a couple of teacher’s coffee orders by the end of next school year. But, how about this: I won’t cut her apples.