This past Friday morning the class schedules were released online for my middle schoolers. The air was crackling with excitement as they read over their schedules. Overall, both boys were happy with their core classes and with their electives. For a brief moment I breathed a sigh of relief. One hurdle down, I naively thought.
As the day progressed I started to feel a subtle shift happening. Their initial excitement had been replaced with disappointment after finding out that close friends weren’t in the same classes.
Our schools are huge here–from kindergarten up, we generally have 350-400 kids per class– so not knowing anyone in class is nothing new, but at the same time, it’s still a big let down.
I encouraged the boys to be patient. Not everyone had posted their schedules on SM and so there was still a good chance that they would know someone in their classes after all.
By nightfall, both boys had become extremely chatty and the anxiety was radiating off them in huge, palpable waves. Stew and I exchanged a silent look that was filled with our own unspoken miseries. Past experience has taught us that, yes, everything will turn out fine, but in the interim, we knew the following week would probably be an emotional roller coaster.
As I’ve witnessed this unfold over the last few days, my protective mama bear heart has started to ache for my boys. I know this tension that has already begun to blanket our house will be settling in for the whole school year. Homework. Projects. After school activities. Too little down time and never enough sleep. Stress and tension would be our new norm. All of the “unschooling” we had done over the summer –our intentional low key, do-as-you-want-days– seemed to be for naught.
Don’t get me wrong. We enjoyed every minute of it and I wouldn’t change it for the world; however, I was hoping I could steal a little of that tranquility and keep it around during the school year, but it already seems to be slipping away.
And I absolutely hate that. I hate how the school year seems to bring out the worst in all of us as we join the hustle and bustle. And I hate how tired and frazzled we are from August until May. But maybe it really doesn’t have to feel that way.
Maybe it’s time to change we do things and focus on having…
A little more peace and tranquility.
And a little less stress and anxiety.
A little more self-reflection.
And a little less comparison with others.
A little more independence.
And a little less helicopter parenting.
Maybe it’s time we all learn to chill and not sweat the small stuff so much. And really, it’s all small stuff at this point in their life. While I want the boys to do their best, I want them to do it in their own way and on their own timeline. Not mine. I want it to be their goals and their dreams which they’re chasing and not the goals and dreams I have set for them.
Some of this anxiety and tension we all feel through the year comes from us parents and it’s time for us to chill. Maybe we should take a few minutes to reflect on our reasoning and motives for pushing our kids to excel at such an early age and what the consequences might be in the long run. Is it worth it? Is this how you want your kids to remember their childhood?
We all know that middle school academics and sports achievements will not be the determining factor for getting into college. So maybe it’s time we quit prepping our kids like it is.