By: Mary Morris
The other day at breakfast I was thinking out loud and I said, “I wonder what I should write about for my first blog?” In classic middle school fashion, my daughter suggested, “Why don’t you write about how miserable you are as a mother?” And that beautiful, mischievous smile lit up my morning! Better than any cup of coffee- and I LOVE coffee.
It is a good thing I “get” juvenile humor. Parenting a middle school child is a whole new scenario. Just when you think you have this parenting thing down and nothing can surprise you, along comes middle school and all the growing aches and pains that come with it. And did I mention the attitude? I had sort of buried the memory of middle school or junior high, as it was known in my day, which is the Paleozoic era to my children. (My daughter is 12 and my son is 4 and they both believe I am 35. Well, my son does anyway. That’s our story and we are sticking with it! Maternal age could be a topic for another day.)
Anyway, the first thing you need to be prepared for when entering the parenting world of pre-pubescence (like that word?) is the drama. I often hear, “Mom, I lost something!” in a voice of terror. By the time I get down the hall to investigate, I find a torn apart room and a child reduced to tears in the middle of that room. And then she will pull out a piece of paper, give me a shrug and sheepishly say, “Oh, here it is.” My famous line in reaction to these episodes is, “Calm down!” I have also learned to wait about 10 minutes to react to any crisis or request and by then, we are usually able to avoid a confrontation. It’s like the New England weather: just wait a few minutes and the storm is bound to settle or go out to sea!
The second thing you should arm yourself with as a parent of a middle schooler is a sense of humor. I feel lucky because I never lost my sense of humor from childhood and I laugh at expressions like, “Yeah, DUH” in response to a dumb action. Or even when I give a sage piece of advice like, “Maybe you should check your assignment book in your last class before heading to your locker so you don’t forget anything,” she might retort, “Like DUH. ( insert dramatic eye roll here!) I am already doing that, Mom.” It is not quite Simpson’s humor but you know what I mean. I happen to have the same sense of humor as my daughter so that makes it easy. I share my son’s preschool sense of humor, as well so I am not sure what that says about me. Oh well!
Until Eva entered this phase, I had completely forgotten how awkward and uncomfortable those pre-teen or middle years could be. I mean, any year of childhood can be tough, whether it includes sickness, a bad teacher or a friend who moves away. But in the pre-teen years there are hormones, pimples and fashion faux pas. And who do you like better: Justin Bieber or One Direction? Or, are they both yesterday’s news? Once you put yourself in your child’s shoes for a day, you can understand where the attitude or drama comes from. Well, somewhat, anyway.
And, oh yes, as with all children, you will need patience and plenty of it. They say patience is a virtue but in parenting, patience is a necessity. It may actually be the most important ingredient to good parenting. Happy parenting!