The day that seemed so far away yet I knew it was coming has arrived. I have fretted and stewed in the quietness of the night over this day. I have put on a smile and talked happily about this day. It is a milestone, no doubt. This is a day for most that doesn’t require much thought beyond the outfit that they will be sporting. However, this day was being planned for and talked about for three years. What day is that? The first day of middle school.
For P, the first day of middle school has been in the works since third grade. The times P was in the principal’s office due to aggressiveness towards other children the phrase “you can’t do this in middle school” was dropped. Refusing to work was met with “you can’t do this in middle school.” And fighting on the playground P heard, “You can’t do this in middle school.” In between these times, more supports were built into his day. Time for breaks? Check. Time for homework completion? Check. Social skills? Check. Emotional regulation? Check. Every outburst, meltdown, and trying day was met head-on with conversations, meetings, and brainstorming sessions.
I am grateful for this beyond measure. It wasn’t without crying, tears, emails written deleted and then written again. There have been sleepless nights and worrisome mornings getting P to school. The hours of love, support, encouragement poured into my child has not gone unnoticed. All of this to get P ready for the transition to middle school. New goals added to his IEP. Extra meetings and tours. New people and new places are stressful for P. The effort was to ease the anxiety as much as possible.
I remembered back in kindergarten the parents would walk to the classroom to pick up their kids. P would be hanging upside down on his desk waiting as patiently as his little body would allow. He would say, “thanks for meeting me at my desk.” I didn’t give it much thought until the next year when P would say, “Please mom, meet me by the gray slide.” I would faithfully meet that boy by the gray slide every day after school. My boy didn’t need reassurance that I would be there to pick him up. He needed reassurance he would be able to find me in the crowd of parents and kids. Every school year, it would be a new meeting spot. Some of my sweetest memories of that little boy include, “meet me by the basketball hoop, ok, mom?”
We are just at the beginning of the middle school transition. There have been many conversations about academics, in between class transitions, sound field systems for his hearing aid, homework policy, break policy, but yet there was one thing missing. P was overwhelmed with all things to do during the school day that he hadn’t thought about afterschool. I gently reminded him that afterschool is pretty busy at the middle school and we should make a plan. P was not ready to decide as he had in previous years and I figured if all else fails I could stand by the doors to catch him before he goes roaming into traffic.
On the first day of school, P was pretty quiet. He rode to the high school to drop off D. He was still pretty quiet on the way to the middle school. I wondered how drop off would go on this first day of a new grade and new school. I took a deep breath, smiled, and asked P if he was ready. “Ummm, mom. .I don’t know . . .” My heart sank wondering what was going through his mind. I asked him what’s up? With tears in his eyes and lip quivering, “Mom, will you meet at the bike rack after school?” There it was the one last thing I was waiting for to make the school year official. As he sat in the car wiping away tears, I opened up his car door so, I could hug my boy. I told him, “Of course, I would be happy to meet you at the bike racks.” Little does that boy know I would meet him anywhere anytime.
All my best to you,