Thursday, June 12, 2014
Summer is here. The calendar may have a misguided notion that summer begins on June 21, but the calendar people are just wrong. It is here. Summer begins when there is no more threat of snow, at least for several months. When all the leaves are finally out and green. When the sun sets nice and late in the evening. When I have to mow more than once a week.
And when school is out.
School was brutal this year. A's first year of middle school, J's last year at elementary. Middle school was a very tough transition for the kid. Not as bad as it could have been, believe me I had months of gut rot going into it, and many of those fears were not realized. It was a slurry of other stuff.
I went to Junior High. In the 80's in Cheyenne, Wyoming, I had never heard of "middle school." I'm still not even sure where the idea came from or when it started. I went to elementary school from Kindergarten until sixth grade. Junior High from seventh to ninth, and then off to high school. Looking back, it doesn't make as much sense. What are freshmen? Ninth graders! But they were high school freshmen! Shouldn't they go to the high school?
Well, whatever. All I know is Junior High was horrific. I don't think I've ever met anyone of my generation who disagrees. We were all shoved into some in-betweener school, with no preparation for how different this would be from the soft, Crayola-filled world of elementary school. Here we had to run from class to class without being late, dodging the kids that would try to trip you, or the couples making out in front of your locker. I would go to ridiculous extremes to avoid having to use the bathroom because of all the scary girls smoking in the bathroom, and if I HAD to go, I would go in the middle of a class (after suffering the indignity of asking for a pass) and get in and out as fast as possible because of the lingering questionable-smelling cloud in there.
I was not an attractive kid in Junior High. I have curly hair, which just didn't work well with mid-1980's hair styles. I was not allowed to wear make up. I was socially immature, still quietly playing with dolls in my room with the door closed. I wore the wrong clothes, could not afford the right shoes, and was very shy. "Stoners" would try to offer me joints out of 35mm film canisters outside the entrance of the school just to laugh when I ran away trying not to cry. Oh, and the bus ride. I don't even think I can revisit that. And I was a kid that LOVED school. I was a kid that counted down the days of summer, eager for that first day. Backwards, I know. So although the general idea of Junior High was a complete nightmare, I still enjoyed the actual classes. When nobody put gum in my hair or passed notes to me about how they were going to kick my ass after school, that is.
So you can imagine my reluctance to send my own, somewhat quirky, child into that snake den.
But, thank GOD, it's a different world now. The school is lovely. The kids were kind and patient, for the most part. The sixth graders are sort of cocooned, and it's as if all the staff and faculty there went to my Junior High and learned what NOT to do.
But still. These teachers get my kid for a maximum of 40 minutes a day. Along with the four or five other classrooms of 25-plus kids they get each day. They would not have the time to get to know him, understand how he works, what makes him tick, how to enjoy him rather than be irritated by him. I knew this meant trouble.
What it ended up meaning, is I attended sixth grade right along with him.
This is getting long. I'll try to make this a shorter story. After a horrible first quarter, we started a new family plan of getting on top of school. I had to struggle every day trying to figure out the whole digital world, with each teacher using the grading and assignment software differently, and me, NOT a tech wizard, trying to navigate. Ended up that most nights I would sit with A for SEVERAL HOURS of homework. Often, honest to God, from the time he got home until the time he went to bed, with a 20-minute break to eat. It was OUT OF CONTROL. I have to brag on my kid, because he is a rock star. Never once complained about going to school. Struggled through homework with barely any meltdowns. I'm very proud of his courage and commitment.
But this was a loooooooooooong year.
Meanwhile, J was rocking elementary school, loving every minute of it, and sort of dreading the end. Here he would watch what his brother was going through each day, and I'm sure he's terrified of middle school now. I guess we'll see.
The last day of school I made a big breakfast. I posted a picture of it on Facebook, and got comments about my performance as a Mom. I need to clear this up. I'm a pretty good mom, but that breakfast may have been more for me than for the kids. I have NEVER looked forward to summer more than this year. School is over. We are not in the middle of remodeling a kitchen (phew!). It was a LONG, frigid, depressing winter, and we are having amazing weather so far. I have more time to spend with my amazing friends and family. What is not to be happy about? So the "champagne" pancake breakfast was for me, people. The kids just got to be there.
Everyone, have a beautiful summer. And come over for a beer and a hamburger some time.