“I’m just worried that it’ll change him! Harden him!” I admitted hysterically to my husband as we Skyped.
“Amber, he’s going to 6th grade, not prison,” he reminded me calmly. He was not worried at all. He was not concerned that his first born was headed into MIDDLE SCHOOL.
“Boys get facial hair in middle school,” I hissed. “Facial. Hair.”
Tom blinked. “It happens.”
I chewed on my lower lip. “I’m not ready. He’s not ready. He’s my baby.”
“He needs to grow up,” Tom cut in, unmoved.
Well, what did he know?
I took Tommy to his 6th grade orientation on Wednesday. Before we walked into the building I stopped and tugged on my son’s hand. “This is it,” I said. “This is a new beginning.”
Tommy cocked his head to the side, baffled. “Huh?”
Okay, maybe I was the only one concerned, although I knew Tommy was a little nervous. This would be the first year where he’d have multiple classes. A locker.
We had to wait in line to show proof of residence. As we waited, a part of me wanted to gather Tommy in my arms. He seemed too young for this. Wasn’t he just born yesterday? Why was everyone suddenly looking so…grown up? But I could not hug him. Not in public, anyway.
I filled out some paperwork and then Tommy was given his schedule.
Gone are the days when he’d sit in one classroom. In 4th and 5th grade he just went into one other across the hall. This was different. These classrooms were all over. I know he tends to panic if he’s running late. Suppose he melted down as he rushed to his next class?
All the teachers were in the school so we were able to meet them. I also let Tommy lead the way to his classrooms. Lucky for him, all his rooms are in one area the first quarter. It could be different for future quarters though.
I’m beginning to panic just thinking about it. MY BOY!
Tommy was polite. He stuck out his hand and said, “Nice to meet you,” to each of his new teachers.
“Will you take care of my boy?” I wanted to ask each one of them. But I swallowed it back.
“Tommy, your new school is big and weird,” Natalie observed as we went to Tommy’s third period class. THIRD PERIOD. He has SIX classes.
Tommy’s new third period (!) teacher beamed and went, “Is this your sister?” after Tommy shook his hand.
“Yes. Sometimes she bothers me. At least she’ll be in a different school now.”
I didn’t even fully think about that. But yes, it’s true. I’ll have kids in different schools. Sometimes when I’d go into the elementary school I’d think, “Maybe I’ll get a glimpse of both my children.” Now it’ll only be one or the other, depending on what school I go to.
I wanted to burst into tears. But I couldn’t. I wanted my husband. I could have leaned on him for support. He would have held me close and been like, “Calm down, Amber. You still have Minnie Mae.” I mean. Natalie. Sorry. The scene from Anne of Avonlea had popped in my head—I thought of Diana’s mom crying because Diana was getting married—and the great aunt said boldly, “Calm down, you still have Minnie Mae.”
I still had six-year-old Natalie who still resembled a little girl and who still spoke in her adorable chipmunk voice that would eventually fade as Tommy’s had done. I miss his chipmunk voice, guys.
It felt surreal as we went on the middle school tour. I was in disbelief that this time had come. Where had my little boy gone? Suddenly I was thrust in a world of multiple classes and kids who were obsessed with cell phones. Some girls already had BREASTS.
I didn’t feel ready. It felt too soon.
But it’s happening. My boy is growing up. There will be struggles as he manages the multiple classes. There might even be tears as he struggles with his locker. He has never been strong with fine motor skills. But I have faith that he’ll succeed. We’ll get through this.
Good luck with middle school, Tommy.