We are into the school year now, and learning how to swim in this middle school pool we find ourselves in. Grace’s anxiety was beginning to show as the first day drew nearer as evidenced by her increasing silence whenever school was mentioned.
We went to the 6th grade “Transition Day” where she had the opportunity to meet her two core teachers, see some of the students who would be in her classes (many of whom she knew from elementary school), and practice her locker combination. And practice, and practice, and practice. This day was immensely helpful!
One thing we’ve learned about Grace is that she deals with worst case scenarios. For instance, when she was preparing to take ISTEP for the first time in 3rd grade, she asked what would happen if she didn’t pass. “You’ll pass” was not a sufficient answer, so we had to talk to her teacher to find out exactly what would happen. She just needs to know. So as we drove to school on her very first day of middle school, I ran through some worst case scenarios with her.
Me: What happens if you are late to the bus after school and it’s gone?
Grace: I’ll go into the office and call you.
Me: And I’ll come and get you, and I won’t be mad. What happens if you are on the bus and you miss your drop off?
Grace: Um…I don’t know.
Me: You’ll tell the bus driver, they’ll call the school, they’ll call me, I’ll come and get you, and I won’t be mad.
Grace: I don’t know what door to go out to get on the bus after school!
Me: I don’t either, so you’ll have to be brave and ask a teacher. They’re there to help you. All of them. Most of the 6th graders will be nervous today and have questions, it’s ok.
As she got out of the car and walked in, all of my confidence left me and I was SO worried about her. Would she be brave? Would she ask? Would she get her locker open? This was the biggest “letting go” I have done so far as a mom.
I realized these opportunities, these little conversations in the car, are chances for cultivating confidence in my kids. I can’t always be with them, but I can teach them what to do. They need to know that they are capable of handling their circumstances. They are brave and strong and able. I must start stepping back ever so slightly in order for them to see it.
As I waited for the bus to show up – 20 minutes late! – I realized just how worried I was. With each passing minute I was closer to calling the school to find out WHY the bus was so late. But it showed up, and there was my girl. She asked not one, but two teachers which door to use. Just to be safe