Thursday, September 3, 2009

Middle School Blues

My son's first day of middle school. I didn't want him to go. Not in that, "Hey maybe home schooling is not that bad after all" kind of way. I just wasn't ready.

When my son was three, we enrolled him in a Montessori school. He was still little but my husband and I were both working full-time and couldn't take care of him during the day. Let's just say, he was not a willing participant.

Every morning I would drop him off and he would cry and cry. Then I would cry. There's really no worse feeling than walking away from school seeing your little boy crying in the window. Finally my husband started dropping him off because I couldn't take it. Of course, when he dropped him off, Will went happily on his way.

This morning I was starting to tear up thinking about Will going to middle school. My husband would have to take him to the bus stop. Plus I figured it would be totally uncool to have both parents at the bus stop. But I knew I would start crying and that would be way uncool.

I went to two middle schools. The first was Huntington Middle School in San Marino, California. I loved that school. Then mid-way through seventh grade we got the news we were moving again (thanks IBM). My second middle school was Bedford Junior High in Westport, Connecticut.

My friends know the story of my starting at
Bedford. My mother decided to take the train cross-country. Unfortunately, she didn't anticipate the blizzard of '78 and getting stuck in New York. Unfortunately for us kids, my dad was in charge of getting us ready for school. Dad took us to the Army Navy store to buy new clothes. My OP shorts and Vans weren't cutting it in the frozen tundra. Granted there was no Gap back then, but the Army Navy store? Basically my brother and I could've posed for Bowhunter's Quarterly...that's how cool we looked.

So I showed up at
Bedford Middle School in my camo pants and greenish-brownish down jacket. Thankfully, I had the Cali thing going for me - the mystique of the California girl. Then they found out I was really from Texas and said pin instead of pen and tin instead of ten. Teased unmercifully, I finally eliminated any trace of a Southern accent. Mostly what I remember about middle school was sort of this strange balance between utter happiness and naked fear. There was the whiff of sexuality, the stirrings of mischief and the occasional misdemeanor. As the perpetual new kid, I learned pretty quickly how to navigate the water. That's a useful skill for blending in but it's not really helpful when it comes to standing out. I'm learning that now in my forties.

My son Will called out to me, "We need to get going." Then he walked out the back door. Even in fifth grade I gave him a kiss every morning before he got on the bus. They'll be none of that in middle school, I'm sure. As I watched him walking off, I held back tears. Looking at him walking confidently toward his future, I felt sentimental for my little boy. But he's not a little boy anymore. And I have to let him go.


  1. "strange balance between utter happiness and naked fear" but definitely tilting towards the fear for me.
    Yes, that was Bedford and I imagine all junior highs and middle schools. And I thought it was only me!

  2. "occassional" misdemeanor????
    don't kid yourself, beck, bedford was tough even if you weren't the new kid. and be glad that those pants were kinda like dickies, so you weren't as uncool as you thought. plus, you had buddy. more than most girls at bedford!
    that being said, ke`ala is in a k-8 to avoid the entire situation and she'll be going from there to the nunnery.

  3. Hey Becky...We're at the exact same spot. Daughter headed off to middle school this past week. I'm trying not to think about it but every time I see a baby picture or a 4 year old picture, it makes me so sad. I hate that. My husband asks me when am I going to stop living in past. Sigh.