Today, you close out 6th grade. I have to be honest. I have somewhat dreaded this season in your life. It’s the age I have always heard is super hard, where so much about your kid will change and who knows what will shake out. Who would have ever seen this year coming? Who would have thought corona would hijack it, not hormones?
I am a half a minute into parenting a preteen, but I have definitely seen you change in a few obvious ways that I want to document and celebrate and offer as encouragement to parents who’s kids are headed towards the middle school years.
First, I have seen a new depth of responsibility. All of a sudden you tackle projects ON YOUR OWN. You may need a little help, and you may annoy the crap out of us until we give it....but the inspiration and the bulk of the work are all managed by you. And they are really good projects. I love how your mind works and how you have the enthusiasm to figure out new ways to make things better.
Second, I have seen a new independence. When we go for a walk and say, forget the poop bag, without being asked (and without whining 🙌🏼) you ride back home and grab one. As your body is changing, you exude this pre-man pride. You want to step into that role any chance you get. You know what your chores are and I never have to wonder if you’ve done them. You know you don’t get screen time until you do some basic things things and you self manage within the boundaries we all worked out together.
Third, you are such a deep thinker. Suddenly conversations are starting to level out. You love to research so you have new knowledge to share. Talking to you is suddenly richer. Within that, you have this new crazy cool sense of humor that has made life so much more fun. I love that we can sit and ponder, we can hash out your invention dreams, your entrepreneur aspirations. Your dreams have more complexity that comes with age, but still hold strong to the passion and innocence of youth. Somewhere inside of me, I keep feeling like you are going to stumble on things that nobody has ever considered with that combination. This is where world changing ideas start to form. I love to sit and dream them out with you.
Yes, you are a classic 12 year old boy. You burp answers to my questions and toot with a ferocity only possible because of the insane amount of food you consume all. day. long. You teeter between grown and child and I have to be flexible in how we interact based on that. You are goofy and moody. Your hormones cause you to get so mad. Your tender spirit causes you to calm down and say sorry. Your comfort level with who you are causes you to be able to easily talk about all your big feelings.
I’m so sorry you had to go into the end of your middle school year alone, awkwardly turn in your stuff, and fill up a school distributed plastic bag with things from your locker. I’m sorry you found out you were awarded a top band student and made principal's list when you opened the stark manila folder in the car. I’m sorry this whole wide world is so weird and is forcing you to celebrate big moments in isolation.
I am not sorry we have had all of this bonus time together. I’m not sorry I watched you quarantine school and through that, was able to see first hand how smart, organized, and self motivated you are. I’m not sad that we can stay up late and play more games because you didn’t have to face the trauma of state testing all spring. I’m not sorry we have been outside and slowed our biscuit roll. I'm not sad that we have cooked more, relaxed more, worked on more projects, and cleaned out some of the junk that was crowding our lives. I hope when you are sharing memories with your kids and grandkids, you will do it from a place of wisdom that grew out of all we have learned during this season. I hope your generation reclaims some of the quality time that living life to the edge of all margins had inevitably hijacked. I hope that we never return to some of the things we had accepted as normal. I hope we are intentional with our choices as we make the decision about adding them back. I’m so thankful for my preteen boy. I’m so proud of how you have thrived in spite of all the odds this year.
I couldn’t help but reflect on your first day of preschool. Different borrowed bag, same sweet smile.