As I walked my son to school this morning, I realized that this is the last year I’ll be walking a child to elementary school. Everyone is right, the school years go by in a blink. While I love seeing the little ones with their backpacks bigger than them, I’m enjoying the tween years a little more.
I watched the kindergarten parents with their kleenex and videocameras, documenting this incredible milestone of starting school. And I heard the sighs of “my little one is growing up too fast.”
Today my daughter started 7th grade.
Sadly, the days have passed where friendships start with “Hi. Do you want to be my best friend?”
We talked last night, though, about all of the milestones she experienced this summer: physically and emotionally. Real conversations. Even with mood swings, boundary testing, and further stretches of independence, this is why I love being the parent of a junior high aged kid. The conversations.
My daughter is now the same age, and same school year, as I was when my father died. It was a difficult “anniversary” this year, but it opened up a deeper level of communication between us.
I love that she and her best friend didn’t disappear in a different room to watch the Teen Choice Awards, but asked me questions about “old celebrities,” Corey Monteith, and what the heck happened to Miley Cyrus. All were opportunities to hear their views on individuality, dangers of drugs, and struggles to find one’s identity (not to mention an appropriate outfit!).
Parenting a tween is by no means easy; I often feel like I am recreating my role. It’s challenging. But I love it- somedays not so much- but overall it’s quite- educational to say the least.
There’s reasoning, there’s debate, and there’s the chance to re-establish your beliefs- because they will be questioned. I can only imagine that this is just the beginning.
That’s the cool thing about milestones as your kids get older. They often have an opinion about them, and it doesn’t feel so one-sided.
For those of you watching your little ones take their first steps into school- and swearing your “baby” will never be as big as the 5th graders. Don’t wish for them to stay little forever. I swear, it’s pretty cool watching them grow.