Fears of a Mommy on the Morning Her Son Goes to Middle School
I nod my head and ask, "Are you sure? If you want to talk about anything you're worried about..." and then he tells me he's fine and can't wait to start school. Indeed, he woke up at 5:45 AM to get ready so I think he's genuinely excited.
I, on the other hand could write a book titled "The Los Angeles Mom's Guide to FREAKING THE EFF OUT Because Your Child Is Going to Middle School."
What's the problem, you ask? Pfft, did you forget how miserable middle school was? I remember how mean middle school kids can be--one minute you're cool and the next, no one wants to talk to you. I hate the whole popularity and peer pressure thing. I'm still scarred...sob! Goes to dial therapist...oh wait, it's 6 in the morning...oh wait, I don't even HAVE a therapist. Makes note to get therapist to deal with middle school parenting angst....
The thing is, if only popularity was the biggest problem facing sixth graders these days. I keep picturing some spawn of Satan-type kid luring Mr. O into a corner at lunch and trying to force crystal meth and shots of Jim Beam down his throat. And then Satan-boy will ask, "So have you scored yet, you newbie loser?" and a seventh-grade girl will appear and rip Mr. O's clothes off. Then some gang members will roll up and accuse O of "messing with my girl?" and pull out their knives and cut him.
If you think none of that could happen, you must not spend much time in your local middle school. I'll never forget girls who were former students of mine telling me about being forced by older boys to give blowjobs to other boys at their school during lunch. I once sat in a sixth grade classroom, watching kids swig vodka out of plastic water bottles. I remember how surprised the teacher was when I told her, ahem, your students aren't drinking water.
No, I don't really think everything we've taught him about who he is and how he's to behave in the world is going to go out the window the minute some idiot offers him drugs. But we live in such an "anything goes", YOLO kind of society. We're all encouraged to just do what makes us feel good...middle schoolers with their immature minds and hormones have no reason not to think the same way. Mr. O is a sensitive soul and I know how taxing it can be to be in an environment where your peers are acting like you're lame because you're not using or drinking or getting physical.
Here's the bonus freakout round: I know he'll have a target on his back because he's a black male. The child may be 11-years-old but he's also 5' 1", which means he's quickly leaving the "aww, you're so cute" stage and entering the "you're inherently violent and I'm scared of you" stage. Nope, I don't just think other people's black male children are negatively perceived in school--or three times more likely to be suspended. Middle school increases the likelihood that he'll be seen as having an attitude when he asks questions about something or is unhappy if he's not treated fairly--Mr. O has a real sense of justice so I worry about this.
I know, I know. He'll come home and everything will be fine. Inhale. Exhale. Time to walk out the door. Wish us luck.