Friday, September 4, 2015

Sonya's New Adventure

Well here we are three weeks into the school year and I finally have my shit together to sit down and write something. Anything at this point!  I always thought that when my girls were all in school I would have all this time to get everything done.  Turns out having all my girls in school means that I am in school more too.  I help out in the classrooms and chair a few PTA positions, so I end up with almost no time to do other things like writing.  However, I decided to forget about everything I'm supposed to be doing right now, to get back to my writing for a minute.  Especially because there is so much in my head that I keep thinking about wanting to write about.  Today it's about middle school.

Yes, Sonya started middle school this year.  I know some places middle school doesn't start until 7th grade and to be honest that might have been a better transition for us, but since Burbank Unified doesn't care about just my family, we had to go with what has already been in place for years.  It was a bit of a rough transition.  Well, let me clarify that.  It was a bit of a rough anticipation time this summer.  

As most of you know, Sonya is already on the young side of her peers.  Because her birthday is in November, and because when she started school the cut off date was December 1st, she started Kindergarten at four, turning five in November of that year.  It was a decision we struggled with and one which we would not have to think about today if she was going to kindergarten.  They moved the cut off date to September here in Burbank now.  We felt like we made the right decision at that time, because she was so smart, and academically she has always done well in school.  Emotionally, she is sometimes a bit behind.  She was sad to leave elementary school in May and this summer we went through some rough patches with her.  She was very emotional at times, crying for what appeared to be no reason and just being generally melancholy.  Now, I realize this is just a sign of things to come.  I remember being 14 and it was not pretty.  However I thought I had a least a couple more years of having to deal with this.  No such luck.

Some days she had so much attitude toward me I thought she was already 14 and I just missed it.  Other days she was her normal sweet little girl self.  Then there were the days of just general blahness.  I try to keep the girls busy during the summer.  They do a couple weeks of camp and we go everywhere from the beach to the museums here.  Luckily we live in a place that there is no lack of fun things to do.  That did not stop her from getting upset from time to time.  The unfortunate part is that she seemed to get more moody once a month when I did.  Not sure how our cycles are matching up already, since she's nowhere near starting hers, but I swear it seemed to.  So we got on each others nerves quite often.  It was a bit rough.  Thankfully, there is wine.  And a Bev-mo is two miles away to buy more wine.  For me, not her.  Although some days that might not have been a bad idea.  I think the Europeans are on to something giving their kids a glass of wine at dinner.  

As the end of the summer neared she started to get worse.  Every time I would try to get to the root of the problem she would insist she didn't know what it was.  Her best friend, who's birthday is in December and is almost an entire year older than she is, was ecstatic to start middle school.  She couldn't wait.  When I thought about that, and combined it with the way Sonya was sad at the end of elementary school, sprinkle on being younger than everyone else... it finally hit me.  

We were in the car going to the beach one day during one of our last weeks.  It had been another difficult morning with her where she ended up in tears and I was ready to tear my hair out.  After a few minutes in the car I said,

"Sonya, I think you are having a really hard time dealing with the fact that you are going to middle school.  I think you might be nervous and that's why you've been acting like this."

She shrugged and replied through her leftover tears, "Daddy kinda said the same thing to me yesterday."

"Well what do you think?" I asked.

"Maybe," she admitted.  "I don't know."

I then went on to explain to her that it is completely fine to be nervous and scared and even to embrace it.  She needed to realize that is what was making her so unhappy and stop trying to fight it.  I think she was having a constant battle with herself about this.   I realized that maybe she thought everyone else was excited to go to middle school and she was the only one feeling this way.

"Do you think everyone feels the same way about going to middle school as Charlotte does?"

"Kinda," she said.

"Well, I have news for you," I told her.  "More people feel the way you do about going than the way Charlotte does.  And if Charlotte is completely honest, even though I know she is excited, I am sure there is a part of her that is scared too."

"Really?" she asked.

"Of course!" I told her.  "It's completely normal to feel the way you are! It's a new school with a whole new set of circumstances.  I know for a fact that Garrett is nervous too."


"Yup," I said.  "I talked to his mom the other day about it."

About a week before we had been out at a concert in Burbank and I ran into another mom I knew.  Her son and Sonya had been in classes together over the years at the elementary school.  We had started talking about our summers and the kids starting middle school soon.   I had mentioned Sonya's emotional state and she said her son had been the exact same way all summer.  Informing Sonya of this fact seemed to put her mind at ease.  Over the next couple of weeks she became more pleasant and less stressed.  We went back to school shopping and she started to become excited about the new year and new things to come.  She was still nervous and would cry from time to time, but at least now she allowed herself to feel this way and not battle it.  

A couple weeks before school started we had to go register at the school  and get her books and her lock for her locker.  Seeing the school and becoming more familiar with it helped even more.  She constantly asked me questions over the next few days about her locker, or her classes, most of which I couldn't answer since I haven't been to middle school in quite a few years, and never went to this one.  One night at dinner  she said,

"I just wish I wasn't the first one to go.  Like when Lana and Georgia go, I will be able to tell them everything so it won't be as scary for them."

"I know," I told her.  "It's one of the things you have to take on being the oldest.  I totally understand that because it was the same for me.  It's hard, but it's a good job for you and you will make it easier for them in a few years."

Knowing that she had the job of learning it all first seemed to help her even more. 

The first day of school came and she was a bundle of nerves, but she was definitely ready.  She was up early and ready to go well before we had to.  We all walked her down to the school to send her off on her first day.  We were allowed  that day to come on campus and walk our 6th graders to their lockers.  As we entered the hall where her locker and first class were,  I was immediately hit with the incredible urge to  burst into tears.  It was like taking her to her first day of Kindergarten all over again.  Now I was the emotional one and it was completely unexpected. I swallowed hard and breathed deep, because it's one thing for kids to see their parents crying on the first day of kindergarten, but it's a WHOLE different embarrassing thing to see them cry on your first day of 6th grade.  I couldn't let her have that stigma.  It took some doing but I managed to get through it without tears.

She found her first class where Charlotte was already waiting.  Coincidentally, they ended up in ALL the same classes, which was also a huge help for Sonya's nerves.  We hugged and kissed her goodbye and walked out of the school to let her begin her next adventure.  THEN I cried.  I mean I wasn't going to hold back forever.  

The best part was when she came home that day.  She couldn't have been more happy or excited about being at school.  She loved every minute of it and enjoyed every class.  Sonya has always loved school, but the past couple of years that love started to wane, like it does for most kids.  So perhaps she was ready to move on to changing classes, taking P.E. every day and housing all her belongings in a locker.  I've often questioned the decision we made to send her to school so early and sometimes think we made a mistake.  Then I remember what a bright, strong,  brave, independent, social, sweet girl Sonya is.  She may be emotional, but she always finds a way to rise above.  That four year old kindergartner turned into a 10 year old middle school er more quickly than I could have imagined or liked.  I'm positive that her middle school years will be just as successful as her elementary school years were.  I  know, without a doubt, that we did make the right decision all those year ago.  I also know, that no matter what, I will always cry along with her with every transition she goes through.  Why does no parenting book warn you of those things?  

Excited and nervous

Lana, Sonya, Georgia - They are getting so damn big! The other 2 started 3rd and 2nd grade.

Sonya and her best friend Charlotte

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