Parenting the middle schooler takes a special person and by “special” I mean someone with a solid support group of friends, family, and a good bartender.
Middle School: that terribly awkward, super uncomfortable, hormonal, crying one minute, angry the next stage of life that absolutely sucks. And it’s bad for the kids, too.
There are days I see glimpses of my sweet boy that I know and love. There are days I sit back waiting for his head to spin around as I stand in a fearful silence. There are days we couldn’t be closer and days I wonder when Scotty is beaming this alien back to his planet, sending mine in return. He’s helpful and organized, he’s lazy and a total slob. He wants to shower when he thinks he may see his girlfriend, yet he refuses to shower after a 2.5 hour practice in 95 degree heat. He thinks I’m a plethora of information when he has questions about homework. But I know nothing else. About anything else. Ever. He can give me his sweetest smile and the biggest eye roll simultaneously. Middle schoolers are continuous contradictions.
All we can do as parents is ride this wave of parental fabulosity, say a few prayers, hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Just as I start to celebrate the last year of this lovely phase with boy #3, boy #4 will be starting. So if the undertow of this wave doesn’t completely do me in this time around, it’s certain to submerge me with the last one. So I ask my fellow parents to throw a sister a life vest if you see me giving the international sign of drowning and I will gladly return the favor. Middle school parents are borderline insane as a result of parenting unpredictable, moving targets, hopped up on hormones, Dr. Pepper, and post gym class Axe Body Spray fumes. We must stick together, like pages of a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition magazine.
We spilled syrup on ours. Get your minds out of the middle school gutter.
Whatever happened to the good ole middle school days of awkward boy vs. girl school dances, slam books, passing notes in class "Will you go with me? Yes. No. Maybe." and girls being shy around boys? As much as I personally loathed my middle school years, I cannot imagine experiencing that part of my life in a technological era of Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. My middle school yearbook is horrifying enough. Thankfully it's hidden so well I have no clue where it is. I cannot imagine pictures and reminders on the Internet following me around, taunting me, mocking me and reminding me of that completely stupid decision to get a perm resulting in a half mullet/half mall bangs 80's look. Lawd. Of course I didn't look anything like the girls look these days in middle school. I had knobby knees, braces, and, the before-mentioned permanent from hell. But I digress.... Our parents had their hands full with us in middle school as well, but now it's a completely different beast altogether with technology.
While this stage sucks as parents, it equally (and probably a tad bit more) sucks for the middle schoolers themselves. I get it. We have all been there, hence the ONLY reason these little scoundrels survive to see high school. Yet the challenges continue to be thrown our way. On top of the world one day, bottom of the earth the next, our once very established parenting tactics are out the window and now we are parenting with the "go with the flow" method. Parenting a middle schooler may not get us the Parent of the Year award, but certainly there's some kind of compensation or trophy or cash prize if we both get through this phase in one piece.
I hold on to the fact that I'm almost 3/4ths of the way through this hell we call Middle School parenting. The first two turned out well, the 3rd one is in the home stretch. And #4.... Ahh... that #4.
Well, 3 out of 4 ain't bad.