This will be the first of two Broody Tuesday posts on milestones, because both of my boys have hit (or are about to hit) pretty big ones. This post is dedicated to my first baby...or rather the fact that he is most certainly not a baby any more.
|Was this really six years ago?!|
Children have an eerie talent of making time speed past behind your back. I can still remember Half Pint's first day of primary school as if it were yesterday, and yet here we are on the brink of adolescence. I am not ready for the next step. The thought of packing him off to high school and all the things he will be exposed to makes me feel queasy.
Half Pint is smart and picks things up easily, and so my worries about high school don't have anything to do with the workload. He has never had any problem mixing with new people either - in fact, he's in a good position as he knows kids from all the different primary schools due to living outside the catchment area of his school and through his numerous sports clubs from over the years.
My worries are about the social side of high school, and the influence of the older pupils. I only left high school 12 years ago, so I can still remember very clearly what that world is like. I can only imagine the conversations and sights he will be exposed to by mixing with older kids, kids who are practically adults...or who at least think they are. My own memories merge with flashbacks from Grange Hill and I break into palpitations!
I doubt anyone could accuse me of being the type to shelter my kids. However, I do think that childhood shouldn't be forced to end abruptly in the school corridor when 11 year old children who are only interested in Minecraft and Harry Potter have to share a space with 17 year old louts who go drinking on the weekend and are constantly trying to see just how deep in the gutter their minds can sink. In this instance (probably only this instance) I think the American school system has a one-up on the UK - they have middle school, which appreciates the fact that there is a world of difference between a tween and someone approaching their 20's.
This weekend as I was mulling my fears over (again...), when I was struck by the realisation that such fears don't give Half Pint enough credit. That whole blink-&-miss-it thing has been at play, and he's actually become more grown up than I had been willing or ready to admit. This came to me me whilst I was watching him compete in a swimming meet. From the spectator gallery I was able to spy on him as he sat with his team between races, and was struck by how mature his actions and way of carrying himself seemed. He takes the pressure of these events in his stride, and in his way of interacting with his team mates and the adult coaches alike there was a confidence which seemed to belong more to an adolescent than a child. I got to thinking that maybe I don't need to be so scared, because there was my gorgeous young man and he looked as if maybe it wont be such a stretch for him to be ready for high school. In many ways maybe he is a little more ready than some, given that I have always raised him to be comfortable enough to have quite frank conversations with me about friends, feelings, sex, the meaning of some of the more colourful language he hears at school, and anything else that pops into his head. His ability to ask questions and also to identify things that perhaps aren't appropriate (at least in front of adults...I'm sure we are all very aware of the sorts of things kids say and get up to when we aren't there!) probably puts him on a better footing than some who will be moving up to high school with him.
This doesn't totally eradicate my worries, but I at least feel a little more reassured. After all, primary seven is a year of growing up and we're only at the start of it. Maybe it won't all seem so scary come this time next year.
Anyone else out there having panic attacks at the thought of their babies heading off to high school? Or even better, are there any parents out there who have been through this gut-wrenching stage of raising kids who can share their survival tips?!