Katie Bingham-Smith | Grown&Flown
My oldest started kicking and screaming the minute he got out of the car on the first day of kindergarten. He was having a hard time obviously, and as soon as his wonderful teacher noticed she walked up to him, held out her hand and said, “Hello Addison, I’m so excited to have you in my class, we are going to have so much fun.”
As I lunged forward trying to get one last hug from him, she gave me a look that let me know all was well. She’s take it from here, and unless I wanted him to devolve into another crying fit, I needed to back off.
More Support From Others When We Had Little Kids
I got hugs and understanding from the other parents standing outside of the school because their babies were growing up too and we all understood that there was no going back–change was coming.
It didn’t matter how eager their kids were to head into school. Nor did it matter how ready we were to send them, having school-aged kids rings out your soul. It’s a huge milestone, and whenever there is a milestone where your kids are concerned, you usually cry no matter how joyous the occasion.
It was acceptable for all of us to be sad and embrace and worry if our kids would survive without us for a day. Would they remember to play nice? Would they miss us? Were they ready to use the bathroom on their own? What if they were overlooked and left outside during recess?
But I’ll tell you, after having three kids enter middle school, and two enter high school, I needed more love on those firsts than I did sending my babies off to their first year of grade school.
It’s been said the middle school years are the toughest on kids. Between puberty, not quite feeling like a playful kid anymore, or an adult yet, it can be a sticky time for tweens and their parents.
High school is a whole different game. They are going to school with kids who seem so much older, this is the time to crack down and get really serious about their future, they start driving, looking at colleges, and sports get even more intense.
And it’s all heavy stuff.
Maybe there aren’t as many parents crying at middle school and high school drop off, but if you look closely enough you will see a few, and many others who are holding back tears out of fear that this isn’t the place where we let the tears flow.
After all, haven’t we been doing this gig long enough to be used to the way it works? Kids wake up, they go to school, and we are used to being away from them.
We Need Love and Understanding With Teens
But I assure you, the parents of teens and tweens are sad for a different reason. Maybe their teenager isn’t talking to them very much and they miss them even when they are sitting right next to them. And starting another school year is like a loud clock ticking away in their ear reminding them their time with their child is coming to a close.
There are a lot of us out there who have no idea how we are going to get through the year and do all the driving, reminding, and remembering it’s going to take in order to get it all done.
I know for me, as soon as they enter those doors our lazy days of a non-scheduled summer is over and it’s probably a sadder experience for me than it is for them. I pray I won’t get any calls from the principal. I hope my kids have a good year with as little drama as possible because there’s nothing that can ruin a kids’ school year like tumultuous time with friends and lovers.
If you see a parent at middle or high school drop-off and they look like they are struggling, give them a hug. There’s no reason we can’t be outside balling in our cars like we were during the elementary school years. For most of us, those years were a cake walk compared to what we are up against at this phase in our lives.
Being a middle school, or high school parent has nothing to do with how much experience we have under our belt–we are all in survival mode being woken up and surprised by something every single day and really, none of know what the hell is going on.
An embrace and a little compassion can go a long way in helping other parents feel like they aren’t alone.