I just returned from Xavier's fifth grade Promotion Ceremony. While the ceremony itself was cute, the implications of today are huge. In one moment, my oldest son went from being in elementary school to becoming a middle schooler.
Even if you are not a parental unit, you understand what this time in life means. Middle school is such a huge transitional period for a child, that even I as an adult, can remember my time with clarity. Middle school sucked. For me, it was probably the most awkward time of my life, likely worsened by the fact that I went to four middle schools in four years. It was a time when the chemicals in your body change drastically, throwing one into a maelstrom of drastic ups and downs. It is a time when the courses get harder, the homework longer, and grades mean more than ever before. It was a time when peers became more important than family, and peer pressure reared its ugly head. It is a time when boys notice girls, and vice versa. School dances come into play, which leads to dating, kissing, and sometimes even heavy petting.
This is the world my son is about to enter.
For now, I don't worry about how he will handle the academic pressure. Out of my three children, I think he is the one who will be able to pull through the inferno that is middle school just fine. However there is one aspect that stood out to me this morning that has me cautious. After the ceremony, I noticed that all of the kids rounded up together, horsing around and celebrating their promotion. All of the kids, except for Xavier. He hung around us parental units and the G-rents. When I encouraged him to go hang with his friends, as he only has one more day left with them, he did so, albeit reluctantly. And that's when I noticed that many of the kids kind of ignored his hello's, or rushed passed him as he tried to join the crowd. For a few minutes he tried, but I noticed that he stayed on the fringes of his classmates antics. After five minutes, he returned back to the family fold, seeming more comfortable with us than his peers.
I worry that this will be his lot in life for the next few years to come. And I don't like it. I was the girl on the fringe for a long time. I was the girl who was bypassed, uninvited to parties, and left alone. It was a horrible feeling as a kid, to not have a few friends I could call up and invite over, or to whisper silly secrets to during lunch. It was hard to go through elementary and middle school and not quite fitting in. It wasn't until high school, when I joined a vocational school for 16 towns that I finally blossomed into the sarcastic, fun loving, loud person that I am today. And part of that was because by that time, I was so used to being the new kid, that I had no issues in the beginning, where many kids had never played the role of new kid.
Maybe I am putting too much of my own history onto Xavier's back. I really hope that I am. Because if he can not come into his own in the next year or two, I know from personal experience that it is a hard road to walk. We will always be there for him. But friends are a huge part of becoming comfortable in one's skin as a teenager. With him joining a middle school that most of his elementary peers are not going to, at least he will have a fresh start to hopefully make new friends with a clean slate.
Aside from peers though, I can't even begin to explain how proud I am of Xavier and all of his accomplishments. He was given the award today of "Most Improved Student", something he absolutely deserves. And his smile lit up the room when his name was called to the front of the room to receive his award and certificate. We stopped by the middle school for an orientation the other day, and watching him walk around, looking at his new classrooms, cafeteria, and gym, I noticed that he looked like he fit right in. I hope that is true, and that his time in middle school goes much smoother for him than it did for me.
A parental unit will ALWAYS have something to worry about concerning their kids: grades, attitude, peer pressure, etc. I guess mine is to worry about Xavier and his social circle. I guess right now, if that is all I have to worry about, I'll be ok. And so will he. I mean, hey, I think I turned out ok in the long run.
Xavier and his teacher at today's reception