He was the same person on September 5th (the first day of school) that he was one day earlier on September 4th which will henceforth be known as BMS (Before Middle School), yet things were totally different.
Yes, he is the same person but parenting him is different.
On day 1, I made a plan to go to work late so I could walk him to the bus stop. It was his first time taking the bus after all. As we turned the corner we saw the other children at the end of the block already waiting – with nary a parent in sight. I had to stop walking and bid my boy goodbye before the other children noticed us. As I watched him walk away, he got smaller and smaller. He made his way to the curb where he would wait and I saw that it wasn’t all in my head. He was at least a whole head shorter than all the other students. It was hard turning my back and walking in the opposite direction. I never had to do that BMS.
On day 2 the students were assigned their lockers and Ace was given a top locker but he’s not from a family loaded with tall genes so he couldn’t reach it and they had to swap him with another, taller, student. He’s still not quite grown. Yet, he was so excited about the freedom he now has to roam the hallways in between each class. We talked about how it’s now his responsibility to get to all his classes on time and to collect, from his locker, whatever books he will need to bring home in order to complete homework. None of this was an issue BMS.
3 days in, I was getting questioned on whether or not he can take a cell phone to school because he is apparently the ONLY one who does not have a phone. He was asking if friends could come home on the bus with him after school. (Ahm, no. Friends can’t come over when no adult is home and we need to get their parents contact info – Same as BMS.) After just 3 days, he was asking that we not wake him up so early in the morning and he’s taking it upon himself to make his own dinner. Mind you, it’s microwave mac and cheese but still.
I believe there’s an upcoming school dance, which I’m sure parents are not invited to. I know they will have teacher chaperones but I don’t remember going to a “no parents allowed” school dance until I was in (the equivalent of) 9th grade. He’s getting jokes now that he didn’t used to get and he’s more concerned with how his outfits look and his little brother is no longer allowed into the bathroom with him at any time.
All these developments make my brain go a little haywire. I think about the time I went to a school dance and had promised to meet my Grandma in front of the school by 11pm but I was too busy on the dance floor to notice the time and the next thing I knew, my Grandma was there, in our auditorium, looking for me. How embarrassing!!!
It’s a good memory (now), and I love getting those triggers, but it makes it very real to me that this time with my Ace is going to go by very quickly. Looking back at it now, my teenage years FELT like the longest ever at the time, but they were over in a flash.
I think about the lyrics to a song from the Dear Evan Hansen soundtrack where his mom sings to him:
And I knew there would be moments that I’d miss
And I knew there would be space I couldn’t fill
And I knew I’d come up short a billion different ways
And I did
And I do
And I will
He’s growing up and the truth is, even though it’s scary at times, I do love to watch it happen. He’s the same person, but now that he’s in middle school, it’s calling for a different kind of parenting. I will try to do it all right. But I haven’t. And I don’t. And I won’t. All I can do is my best and hopefully he will look back and say his memories are good ones.
*Note* He’s one week in and he says it’s been great. He swears that Middle School is better than Elementary School and much to his own amazement, he thinks he will enjoy History class.