This year you are headed to a new school. Not just any school, but junior high school. For 7 years you have been in a classroom that was with one warm teacher there to cuddle you if you bumped your head or when you had a yucky tummy. In the afternoons you walked home I would count the minutes that it should take for you to walk from your school to our house, each painstaking minute clicking by on the microwave display. It always seemed to take too long. Perhaps you had stopped to talk to a friend? Maybe you forgot your lunch bag and had to backtrack? Or, heaven help me, some weirdo asked if you needed a ride? Had I remembered to tell you to scream and run and always walk with a friend? 2:55, 3:03, 3:07 and then…relief…there was your smiling face. I became an expert at pretending not to worry, but I nearly gave myself a coronary waiting for you to bounce through our front door.
Now you will be too far away to walk. So I’ll treasure these moments you still want your mom to drive you instead of taking the bus with your friends. Even if I could hop on that bus with you, I wouldn’t put you through the anguish of having the weirdest mom in town. But I’d want to. Being a mom is strange, peanut, we are supposed to take care of our children and then suddenly stop taking so much care. You should know that junior high can be scary. There are metal lockers, block schedules, bus times, and unfortunately, bullies. Yes, sweet girl, there may be people who tell you that there is something wrong with you. It won’t matter what you look like or what you wear, they will find something that hurts you and they will incessantly poke. And I can’t be there to stop them. It’s not my job to race to school and slap those kids who may tease you. (I really want to. Don’t they know how wonderful you are?) When you were small, I was afraid you may have a fever after your spelling test. Now I’m afraid you will have a broken heart between 2nd and 3rd period. There is no nurse for that.
Here is what I know for sure, Sweet Madi….you are beautiful, smart and capable of good decisions. You have great things to learn and share with the world, don’t forget that. When friends hurt you or strangers make nasty comments, remember that you are worthy of love and acceptance. If you don’t get that at school, just come home. There is always love here and we will be waiting. This is your safe place. This is where you can rest your weary head. Perhaps you will need that, perhaps you won’t. But it is always here. You may be faced with challenges, you may fall and you may get hurt because you are growing up. You are learning how to be an adult and that is no easy task. Know you are loved. Know you are enough. Go out there and be brilliant and don’t waste energy worrying about people who seek to break you. They are not the people who love you or want the best for you. You are smart, you will be able to smell those dirt bags a mile a way.
It’s my job to put on a really happy face as you venture into the unknown, so I will. As we take pics today I will laugh and smile, as if I have nothing to fear. But I fear everything now because I can’t protect you from the world anymore. Just remember that I will always be here to soften the blow. And I will still watch that clock on our microwave until it’s time to pick you up, although I won’t admit to it. Ever.
Enjoy your new school, your new friends and be brave, Daughter. Always be brave. You, too, will survive junior high.