It was a cold and rainy night . . .
Well, not rainy, but cold? Yes.
There I sat at the 5th-grade parent orientation meeting with all of the other folk who were sharing this horrifying experience with me when it hit me.
My days of sleeping in are over! Finished!
The Principal tried to scare us with tales of how our children were going to be experiencing extreme emotional, academic and social changes during their first year out of elementary school and all I could think about was how much coffee I will need to be drinking in order to get my son up and ready for school at 6:30 a.m.!
That's preposterous! I thought to myself as I sat there and listened to guidance counselors regale me with examples of actual things they'd heard parents complain about during their child's first year of middle school.
Just a few of the gems they shared with us:
"My daughter doesn't talk to me anymore, and we used to be so close! I just KNOW something is going on with her, and I'm worried. Can you talk to her?"
"My son has become disrespectful and rude to me. He REFUSES to do anything I ask. What should I do?"
After one guidance counselor, who has been around since my time, gave parents stern advice about not sending their kids to school with energy drinks of any kind, I thought, yeah, well what about the parents who have to get up at the crack o' dawn, can they have energy drinks, mainly in the form of strong coffee? I didn't ask him that though.
The orientation continued. Parents sat, me included, with deer-in-the-headlights looks on their faces as they were informed of the evil of MySpace, texting and peer pressure. We were told by these professionals to "increase your knowledge of adolescent development and peer pressure," and to "try not to 'rescue' your child when he/she is being teased, or is struggling with a teacher."
More coffee, please.
The evening's events were really kicking into full swing when the exact execution of the three lunch "hours" were explained. "There will be 15 minutes where the students may eat before heading out to the courtyard area to do a number of things including but not limited to playing frisbee, throwing the football, hanging out or CHASING. Girls chasing girls, boys chasing boys, boys chasing girls, girls chasing boys and groups chasing groups."
Make that a triple, for me.
Wait, chasing? I thought someone said that the kids weren't supposed to consume energy drinks at school.
In the end, I left the crowded cafeteria with a sore bottom from sitting so long, a sore back from contorting my body to see around the very tall man sitting in front of me, and a fear bigger than the state of Texas. Hi Texas!
My baby, the one who just turned eleven, will be attending middle school next year. He will have one foot in childhood, one foot in adolescence and a whole brain full of crazy emotions in between. He won't want to talk to me. He will try to get out of homework. He will be exposed to many things that he wasn't during the first 6 years of his public school education.
The best advice given to us on this, the last night of our children's childhood and innocence, was this: Patience is the key!
Patience, really? I've got some of that, hopefully enough to last the both of us during this time which, according to the school administrators, is "just the beginning and will last throughout the teenage years."
Scared, I am.
And coffee, I will need - in extreme amounts.