The beginning of school is a particularly nerve-wracking time for me. I never know how things are going to go for M. Even if the principal doesn’t have me on speed dial by the end of week one, I’m reluctant to say he’s off to a good start. In my experience, that’s a sure-fire way to jinx things.
However, after nearly a month into middle school, so far so good. M is getting back and forth to school by himself. I still have to remind him to check to see if he has everything he needs for the day, but so far he hasn’t forgotten anything important at home or school. He’s been dong his homework, with limited parental prompting. He’s adapted surprisingly well to coming home alone – at least 2 hours of unsupervised media time seems to keep him well occupied. When he called me one day last week to tell me he was home, he was making himself popcorn, something he never does when one of his parents is home.
Compared with previous years, M seems to happy at school. One of our neighbours remarked that he looks like he’s grown about a foot taller in the last month. He hasn’t , but he is carrying himself with renewed confidence. One of his buddies in his class and he seems to be hanging around with a group of boys during breaks and lunches. Some of them were classmates in elementary school and are very familiar with his past behaviours. But M seems to have discovered what I’ve been telling him for several years – other kids are more likely to want to hang around you when you aren’t poking them or yelling at them. While M has some definite quirks, he’s a pretty likable kid. His problem has never been making new friends, it’s been keeping them. I’ve been convinced for quite some time that if M felt that he was part of a group, rather than an outsider, he’d probably be better able to cope with the normal lumps and bumps of life. In other words, a strong social network would help him feel better about himself, thus increasing his resilience. Like most 12 year olds, M’s relationships with his peers are one of the most important things in his life. But no matter our age, everyone needs to feel connected to other people (cue the cheesy pop song – People who need people/Are the luckiest people in the world).
I’m not so naive as to believe M won’t have some challenges are school. We’re still in September – we’ve got 9 more months to go. The teachers are still getting to know the kids and haven’t started piling on the work yet. For the moment, the kids are getting outside at break and lunch which helps make them all get through the day. Wait until winter comes and M is stuck inside from 9 to 3 every day with 500 or so restless 12 and 13 year olds. If we don’t have some drama. there’s probably something wrong with my child.
But why borrow trouble? For the moment, I’m not going to worry about what might happen. M is making friends and is happy at school. Can’t ask for much more than that.