Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow?

Yesterday was BIG.  Well, maybe only Big.  Possibly just big.  I don’t know.  It depends on your perspective, I suppose.

Yesterday I took the oldest two (well, all of them, actually) to tour the middle school and meet the principal.  They could not wait to see it.

The school is new, about five years old, so the hallways are wide and the ceilings are high, and everything is bright and shiny.  This all gives it the appearance of being rather large, but in fact it is a small school.  The girls don’t quite see it that way yet.

The main hallway downstairs houses the seventh and eighth grades, with four classrooms per grade, if I’m remembering correctly.  There is a small library, a good sized computer lab, a disproportionately huge gym, a nice art room, and a decent sized music room, in addition to the office, also located on the main floor

Upstairs houses the fifth and sixth grades, also with four classrooms each, another computer lab, and . . . I think that was it.  A custodial closet and some bathrooms, of course, but that’s pretty much it.

The astute will notice the absence of a cafeteria.  That is because they share the cafeteria with the high school, which totally blows me away.  My high school, which was not large by an means (about 300 in my graduating class) had three cafeterias, all of which were larger than the one shared by the middle and high schools here (the two schools are connected by a hallway/breezeway type of thing).

So, yeah, small school.  But as I said, the girls aren’t seeing it quite that way.  To them it seems large and daunting.

As L~ said yesterday, “The idea of going to school seemed fun when we were doing all the back-to-school shopping, but now it just seems kind of scary.”

So today, before going to the county fair (which I really rather enjoy in this county (much less white trash than I’m used to seeing at fairs) (yes, I’m being judgmental) (though the two 11ish-year-old girls walking around smoking were a bit disturbing); but, anyway, a nice fair, so score one for living out in the boonies) . . . before going to the county fair we had lots of discussions on their impending leap from the nest and into the bosom of government schools, tweeny-bopper girls, and boys.

Topics covered included but were not limited to:

Oh my word!  They talk about “bases” in The Princess Diaries books?  I honestly never figured out what the bases were (except first base is kissing, I think), but GIRLS!  I don’t care if the whole rest of the school is running around those bases, whatever they are, YOU DO NOT.

People French kiss because it is fun.  I know it sounds gross to you now, and I hope it continues to sound gross to you until you are at least 25, but you asked why people do it, so I’m telling you:  it’s fun (though completely inappropriate at your age, and I will personally cut out the tongue of any boy who even attempts to stick his into your mouth).  (Okay, so I didn’t actually say that last part about cutting out tongues out loud.  Yet).

Our swing set/play ground/ whatever you want to call it seems to be the talk of the county (we met the school/district nurse yesterday and when the principal told her we live in Mrs. T’s old house, she immediately said, “Oh, you are the kids with that fabulous play set!  I wondered when we’d be getting the kids that go with that play set in our schools.  Isn’t that just great?  You must just LOVE that!) so kids might ask you questions or make comments about it.  I have no way of knowing if the comments will be of the nice type or of the mean type.  Whatever they say about it, if they say anything at all, INVITE them over to play on it.  If they say only babies play on swings, tell them your parents play on it sometimes (because we do) and would be more than happy to have them over to play on it, hang out on it, whatever (but not run “bases” on it) as well.

If you find yourself wanting to get to know people but not knowing what to say, ask them questions about themselves.  Ask them how long they have lived around here, how many siblings they have, what food from the cafeteria they would suggest, what they like to do for fun outside of school around here (because heaven knows we still need help figuring that one out anyway) what teachers they like the best, what their favorite subject is, whatever.  Just show a genuine interest in them.  Do not ask what the various bases are.

I know it is scary, I know you are shy.  I totally understand.  My advice is this:  no matter how terrified you feel on that first day, pretend you are an actress starring in a movie about a girl who everybody likes, a girl who is confident, a girl who is nice.  Be that girl and don’t let them see how scared you are if at all possible.  Middle school kids smell fear and the scent tends to set them off (I speak from painful experience as a shy middle school kid and from painful experience as a middle school teacher).  The ensuing feeding frenzy of meanness isn’t pretty; but I don’t want to terrify my girls into being hermits, so I’m trying to gloss over that part.  Hopefully this school is full of really nice girls who just had their braces tightened, just started their period for the first time, and are wondering if the boy who sits behind them in homeroom is going to try to get to second base – whatever that is.  Really, when you think of it that way, no wonder middle school kids are so mean.  It’s a lot of stress and discomfort.

Tomorrow I have no idea what we will talk about.  I don’t know what they will ask about (the above highlights of today’s conversations were primarily brought up by the girls themselves).  But I’m wondering:  what advice would you give to your fifth and seventh grade daughters if they were going to school for the very first time/starting a new school.  If you ever switched schools or were home schooled and then went off to school, what do you wish you had known ahead of time?

I mean, I realize I can tell them all kinds of things and it doesn’t mean they will get it.  Some things you just have to experience and work though, you know?  But still, I want to give them everything I can ahead of time so that maybe something will help them when they need it, and I worry (oh how I worry) that I have not prepared them for this.

And I don’t just mean I haven’t prepared them with pep talks and little bits of advice over the past few weeks, and I’m not speaking of academics.  No, I mean that I worry that I have not Prepared them enough.  However, I think the specifics of that are best left to a password protected post.

So, again, what advice would you give?  This is kind of like cramming for a test since school starts in a week.  What should I tell them over this next week?  If I could make a little pamphlet or booklet to help them get through this “new school” transition, what would the bullet points be?  While I want as much advice as possible here, I am especially interested in hearing from people who can look back at their middle school years and not say, “Thank the lord I wasn’t a chicken, because I was so low in the pecking order I’d be dead now.”  How did you survive?

Because I?  Barely did. 

And George, if you’re out there, Tewt the Newt says hello.

9 thoughts on “Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow?

  1. Sunflower Seeds

    Wow! Lucky you! I just wrote an article on this very subject. And guess what?! You’re doing everything PERFECTLY!!!! 😉
    All of the experts I talked to said take the kids to the school, on a non-busy day, to walk through and take a look at things…introduce them to teachers ahead of time…get them involved in their new school in extra curricular stuff as early as possible…communicate with their teachers – enlist their help to keep an eye out for your kids to watch out for possible problems…help your kids find a buddy (sometimes the school can help with this) so that they’re not completely alone on the first day…and let them talk – and LISTEN!
    See? You’ve got it covered. After having moved the kids twice in the last year, I just want to encourage you that the girls will do GREAT! Yes, it’s scary…for them and for US. But its just a matter of time.
    The one thing that really helped my kids (especially Alek) is letting them know they WON’T be the only new kids in that school this year. Chances are there are other kids in there who are new too. So they’re not alone.
    Hang in there Mom! We’ll be thinking of and praying for you and the girls! 🙂

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  2. So much to think about and take in.

    Maybe remind them there is life outside of football 🙂

    Wish I had some real advice for the girls, though I am betting they will do great on their own.

    It sounds like you are doing great, letting them ask questions and not freaking out is always a good thing. The thought of us doing this process in a couple years has me breaking out into a nervous sweat and I am not sure if we will even be doing it. I guess I am having sympathy nerves for you. Worse case scenario it goes awful and at the last minute you pull them out and homeschool regardless. If I were a betting person, though, I would say that isn’t going to be an issue for your girls.

    Now the key is to have them answer soe of this when they are a few weeks in and loving it.

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  3. Advice: “if you come home after your first day and mommy is passed out on the couch drunk, please do not worry it is a sign of things to come.I will be ok”. ha. It’s good you don’t drink 😛

    Seriously I do not envy this position. I always said I would let my kids go to school if they asked to go to school. But I would be a mess. You, on the other hand, are being very rational and level-headed and not shooting darts with your eyes at the school admin which is already way beyond any advice I could give!! 🙂

    Seriously the only other thing I would add is what I tell my boys already (all of their friends are PS friends – they aren’t big on the HS community): make friends who want to be like you, do not strive to make friends by trying to be like them. You no, the whole leaders vs followers thing coupled with “be true to who you are”. It has served them well.

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  4. Dianna

    Truly, this isn’t a conversation that you only have when coming into a new school. Natalie and I had this talk yesterday and she’s been at the same school since kindergarten… what if a couple of the girls were mean to her like they were last year… what if her teacher doesn’t like her… what if she struggles with the stupid new math (‘stupid’ is my addition to that question)…

    There will always be people who don’t see your good qualities. Find the people who do, and ignore the rest. They may come around, they may not. But as long as you’re being you, then you’ve already done everything you can.

    I can’t wait to hear about their first day!

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  5. metaphase

    It sounds like you’re doing great. It always helped me to go to the school before and find all my clasbeing pretty popular (and not b/c I went to any of thses. (I even did this in college!).
    I haven’t read all the comments, but my advice would be, give it time. The first week may be difficult, but they should give it a few weeks before passing judgement about the rest of the year. I think the first 6 weeks or so is pretty tough, as I remember it, but I ended up fitting in well and having a great experience (and not b/c I went to any of those bases!:)
    Also, get involved in things you like. Then, you meet people who have at least some of the same interests as you.
    Good luck, ladies. I’m sure they’ll do great!

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  6. I am so behind in reading, but I wanted to comment/read this one first. It sounds like you are covering lots. And it’s great the girls have toured the school. Can their guidance counselor or principal set them up with a buddy in their grades for the first day or two? We do that with all new students and it seems to help. Good luck. I will be anxious to hear how things go.

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  7. metaphase

    I have no idea what happened to my comment. It was eaten for a second and now there it is. Obviously, something went wrong b/c it pasted in something from a different Word document in there. I’m not a total freak is what I’m saying! Sorry and I hope you get the gist!

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  8. Christina

    I have the worst time with this. Mostly because K has the most overactive BS detector ever. She sees right through all the “good” advice or just plain shoots it down. Also she’s very introverted, so I try to emphasize that all she needs is a couple of nice friends – it’s not numbers, it’s quality. And I’m also really honest – I tell her the first few days/weeks will probably be hard and overwhelming, but it gets much much better over time and really everyone is nervous at first, even people who have been going to the same school for years.
    Your girls have a HUGE advantage in that they are starting the same school together. That will make everything easier, I think.

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  9. Oh man. I started a new school for fifth grade AND for seventh grade! I should know a thing or two! But I don’t. Gak. It’s just, you know. HORRIFYING. (Actually 5th grade was easy. 7th grade was… not.)

    My only thing would be: sympathy. Even for the dorkiest silliest stupidest things. I was the oldest and too proud/too afraid to admit I wasn’t having a blast five days a week so my mom was clueless about the mean girl 3 lockers away and the boys who made fun of me because I wasn’t allowed to shave my legs. I don’t know if it would have made anything better, but I do often wish I’d been able to tell my parents/my parents would have asked about stuff like that. Of course, YOU are telling your daughter about french kissing so you are already LEAPS AND BOUNDS above my mom’s tween-girl talk threshold.

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