I’m entering a new era of parenthood, as my oldest just started middle school. With the first quarter wrapping up, I’ve been reflecting on all the things I want my son to know as he enters this next stage. Here is what I would tell him if I could ever get through a speech like this without the middle school eye roll.
May you find yourself but also allow yourself to get lost.
In these middle school years, you’ll learn a lot about yourself. You’ll learn what qualities you desire in true friends. You’ll learn your best ways to study. You’ll learn about your strengths and weaknesses. There will be days when you are confident in who you are. And that’s great. But, don’t be afraid of the days when you feel lost. Middle school is uncharted territory for you. You’ll find your way out of the woods in time.
May you work hard but know the struggle.
I wish you success in all your endeavors, and of course, I want the very best for you. I look forward to watching you triumph. But, I also want you to struggle. There will be times when you are drowning. You can come to us. Your dad and I are prepared to throw you a life ring. But sometimes, we are going to watch you tread water. There will be days when you give 110% just keep your head above water. You’ll be exhausted, but you’ll eventually reach the shore and catch your breath. And there will be no greater feeling. I want you to know that you can do hard things.
Be kind to others. And yourself.
You already know the Golden Rule. You know what it means to treat others with dignity and respect, and you know that sometimes you are less than kind and patient. You know about the importance of apologizing with sincerity. You know not to be the reason someone else has a bad day and what it means to show others grace. But, equally important is being kind to yourself. Middle school is a different world. School gets harder. Your friends might disappoint you. Hormones get weird. Through it all, remember to be kind to yourself.
Learn but also teach.
You are actively learning every day. That’s wonderful and important. You are learning about yourself. Your teachers are delving into content deeper than they have previously. You are ready for it. You have much to learn, and I encourage you to be a lifelong learner, but don’t let that stop you from teaching. Be a leader. Help a new student find his way to class. Teach a friend a different way to solve that math problem. Let your teammate know where you’re going with the ball if it comes to you. You are young and full of uncertainty, but don’t discredit yourself. You can reach and teach and make a difference.
We’re here for you. Always.
You are getting older. You might feel like your dad and I can’t relate to you or won’t understand you. Even though we can remember our middle school days like they happened yesterday, I know you’ll think we are out of touch and can’t possibly empathize with you. Talk to us anyway.
I remember swaddling you like it was yesterday. I can still hear your little raspy voice the first time you recited the Pledge of Allegiance. I can still smell the baby shampoo in your hair. Those will forever be some of my fondest memories of motherhood. Still, I love watching you grow, and I’m ready to add more favorites to the list. I could not be more pleased with the young man you are becoming, and I’m eager to see what your future holds.