21 March 2013

Sentimental, Protective?

Sometimes I think I’m lacking some parental-sentimental gene, or maybe it’s a parental-protective gene. I didn’t weep when my kid went off to kindergarten (though I did take a picture). I don’t get verklempt at the school plays. I might kvell sometimes, but I’m just as likely to mock.

The other night, there was an orientation for parents of kids going to middle school next year. (I know, how did that happen? She can’t be that old.) So I went – isn’t that what you’re supposed to do? The email announcing the orientation session read, in part, as follows:

It's an exciting and sometimes stressful time as your child(ren) prepare to enter middle school next year. If you are interested, the following are upcoming information sessions pertaining to this transition.

What I realized partly through this waste of a Tuesday evening was that the Administration and/or the PTA think that the transition to middle school is stressful for PARENTS. This was all about using cute fifth graders in a scripted Q&A to assuage parents who are all freaked out about locker combinations, and walking down hallways alone, and OMFG guidance.

In the middle school my kid will attend, there are three guidance counselors and a psychologist and a part-time social worker – for about 700 kids. That seems excessive to me, excessive to the point of coddling all the precious snowflakes.

Did you have a guidance counselor in middle school? I’m fairly sure I didn’t, and if there was one in the school, it was to address the bad kids. We did have guidance counselors in high school, but there their sole purpose seemed to be to help navigate the college application process. (My guidance counselor suggested I should apply to a school that I didn’t even deign to consider a “safety” school – I always thought she was aiming kids low so that her stats would look better.)

I'm thinking that perhaps I'll skip the second orientation meeting, dubbed "Middle School 101" which includes such scintillating topics as "friendship/social development" and "how to prepare your child for middle school". Do I really need to waste another evening getting answers to questions I don't have?  Does that make me a bad mother?

Really, all I'm worried about is how we're going to get her out of the house by 7:30 in the morning, given that most days she's asleep until 8.

16 comments:

V-Grrrl @ Compost Studios said...

My kids *liked* transitioning to middle school--changing classes and having some autonomy agreed with them. The school part of middle school was fine but the Girl Friendship Drama was high. Cliques. Shifting alliances. Fights for the affection of some boy. My son went through middle school with no big issues but my rock solid daughter had a lot of bad moments. She's in high school now and glad middle school is behind her.

Jody said...

Wow, I was going to say almost exactly what V-Grrrl did. The school/locker/responsibility stuff was very welcome but the girl drama and hormones have made this a tough, tough year. There is a ton more hand-holding than there used to be, but it doesn't necessarily feel out of place.

I aggressively ignore the weekly email updates with their reminders to go thru my kids' binders and planners with them. Dudes, if you want my kid to learn the consequence of chaos, give them bad grades now when no one will care. And please mark my kid down for that terrible illegible scrawl he calls handwriting because OMG.

But I am hand-holding all over the place for the emotional stuff. And there is a ton of it. And that's my part of the job.

Sarah said...

Skip the second meeting. Really.

Julia said...

Stay home and read Queen Bees and Wannabees, instead. Besides, fifth grade isn't really middle school. The hormones are what define middle school, and you've probably got another year or so before those hit. You'll know when they do.

Anjali said...

A lot of what happens at our middle school information meetings deal with internet safety and cyber bullying. If the second meeting addresses these issues, you may want to consider it.

the queen said...

My Dad was surprised I was in 12th grade and never spoken to my guidance counselor. Now I realize it's because my parents taught me how to cope with my problems. The guidance counselor gets the kids to the therapist who will teach them how to cope with their problems.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

For us, middle school is 6th-8th grade, so my son will be going next year; and I was going to say what Jody said. More responsibility: yay! Emotional problems: help!

Is the guidance counselor also the autism specialist? There are a lot of kids flagged these days as aspergers/adhd/etc., and they get special hand-holding, I *think* from the counselor.

Anonymous said...

Just say, "no, but thanks for asking." One meeting is plenty.

You will love this stage. Lots of angst, sure, but it's fun watching the growth, and we found the angst funny.

Middle school teachers are the BEST, heard it all and still unfazed.

Linda

Jeanne said...

I wish I had advice about making kids get up earlier just as their circadian rhythms are naturally starting to shift their sleeping patterns to later to bed, later to rise. But I don't. I do have advice about the meeting--you can skip it. I like the suggestion about reading Queen Bees and Wannabes...or watch the movie Mean Girls with your daughter.

Nan | Wrath Of Mom said...

I third the Queen Bee recommendation. Plus the second book Queen Bee Moms and Wanna Be Dads.

I'm in BC and I don't know if it's just my town or the whole province but the primary school goes to grade 7 and then the kids transition to the secondary school. I homeschool my kids and I get a lot of questions about it from the moms of primary school boys. AND I get many questions from the moms of secondary school girls. The second group of moms all cite the social issues and peer pressure elements for spurring their interest. I find this fascinating.

But back on topic: it sounds like there's a lot of parental hand holding going on with these meetings. I'd be likely to skip them, too.

Patois42 said...

I'm on the third going into middle school, and I've skipped all of the parent orientation meetings. The school has an orientation for the kids, and that's the only orientation I deem valuable.

kittiesx3 said...

No wonder I adore you. Like you, I didn't cry when sending them off to school nor did it freak me (or them) out. Sure, some children sometimes need help adjusting but most do fine on their own. They just figure it out. It's called growing up.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

You will really want to skip parent orientation for parents of college freshmen.

blackbird said...

I attended that second meeting. Twice.
Don't bother.

Jenn said...

whoa - that's way too much information. My middle school was grades 7 & 8 (and it's now closed, favouring the primary, straight to secondary route). I with you on the "lack of sentimentality" thing, though I prefer realist :)
Must go check out those book references...

leanne said...

Yeah, I think I'd be more interested in having my child attend an orientation than for me to do so.

I'm pretty sure we had some kind of guidance counselors in junior high. I remember meeting with one to fix my class schedule once (though she wasn't particularly helpful).