Moving On Up To Middle School


middle school

My daughter has always been in some form of schooling since she was 12 weeks old. Because my husband and I both work, she started daycare then. I watched her grow, advancing through the toddler rooms and then the preschool rooms. Soon she graduated and started kindergarten. I remember thinking, “Wow, how did this happen?!” There was no fear dropping her off on her first day, just pure elation. But life doesn’t stop there. Flash forward a few years and she has finished 5th grade. Last year, she moved on up to Middle School. And now I am thinking, “When did she get to be this old?! Where is my little girl?”

Middle School. My daughter constantly questioned me about it before she finished up with elementary school. I told her classes were different, and you actually had to go to different classrooms. You would have different teachers and homework would become more plentiful. And then, upon remembering my own Junior High days (in Brooklyn, NY middle school is junior high), I told her that the kids would be mean. This is the age that I refer to as the “Punk Age.”

The “Punk Age”

When I referred to Middle School as the “Punk Age” my daughter looked at me quizzically. I explained to her that during Middle School, kids tend to become, well, punks. Your sweet angel may grow out of kissing you goodnight. Your angelic boy may claim that you’re embarrassing him. Your child might become cruel. What is the cause of all this? Puberty.

Oh, puberty. Some of us barely remember it as we are decades older from that age (26 years to be exact). That time when children develop extreme body odor that you wonder what died in their room, or their shoes for that matter. Hair starts to grow in interesting places. Voices change. Bodies grow taller. Certain areas develop in new ways and if you are a female, that stubborn monthly visitor shows up.

With all these hormonal changes comes the punk attitude. This attitude makes you think you are cool. Being mean is funny. You know more than your parents because they are so lame. Frankly, Middle School is the worst age group. Middle Schoolers are punks.

Middle School Orientation

We had moved to a new school system for Middle School. My husband and I wanted a better education for our daughter. She needed a more challenging program. Our first experience with the school other than her testing for math placement (and former dance recitals) was Middle School Orientation. Late last August, I took my daughter and one of her friends to this. In the cafeteria I looked in amazement. There were kids in all various stages of punk, I mean puberty. Some looked as if they should be in third grade, while others could have passed for high school freshman. 

The kids played a little scavenger hunt game, learned the rules, and then it was time to receive their locker assignments. I chuckled a little as all these kids attempted to open their lockers. Not realizing they had to change directions in turning, they got heavily frustrated, my daughter included. After many attempts, my daughter finally succeeded in opening her locker. I only prayed she could do it on the first day of school.

The First Year

The first day of Middle School was like any other with my daughter. I took a picture of her outside. I waited for her to get on the bus before going to work. She came home and gave me the same reply when I asked her how her day was, “Good.” The first few weeks flew by with no changes in my daughter. She was still my sweet baby girl.  

Of course I missed deadlines on a few things such as intramural sign-ups. My daughter decided she wanted to be in the play so we went to that introduction meeting. She signed up, I shelled out $50, and she was now a creamer in Beauty & The Beast Jr. We dove into the crazy rehearsal schedule. She was able to complete homework assignments and according to her teachers and her report cards, was being challenged. All was good.

Until the bus incident. Late fall, my daughter came home and told me about two seventh grade boys who were asking all the girls on the bus if looking at them makes them moist. Did I mention there are fourth and fifte graders on this bus? Age of Punk was setting in. The boys thought they were being cool. This was amid the #MeToo campaign. I was impressed with my daughter’s behavior especially when they asked if they could check to see after she replied with no. I reported it to the school. Those children had to sit up front the rest of the school year.

The remainder of the school year brought several chorus concerts and the science fair. My daughter acclimated well in this new school life going from class to class with a few hiccups. She panicked on how she was going to make it from one class to another that was downstairs and on the other side of the school. She was embarrassed to change for gym. There were eye rolls and sighs. But, overall, the year was a success.

A Few Pointers

If your child is moving on up to Middle School this year, or the next, keep in mind the following:

  • Talk To Them – Don’t take ‘Good’ as an answer. When my daughter tells me her day was good, I have her explain more. I also tell her she can talk to me about anything. I want her to not feel scared about bringing anything up to me or her father.
  • Keep Talking To Them – … about drugs, about sex (gasp!), and about puberty. Right now, my daughter will cover her ears and start singing when I bring up body changes or when I ask her to tell me when she gets her period so I will have enough products for her. I keep bringing it up because I want her to know it is not a taboo subject. All females go through this. This pertains to boys too and their body changes.
  • Treasure The Sweet Moments – My daughter still gives me a hug and a kiss every evening. Sometimes she likes to lay her head in my lap or cuddle as we watch TV. I tell her I treasure these moments because soon she will not want to do anything with me. There were a few instances where I embarrassed her this year, a few times she knew more than me and many eye rolls. With the punk phase kicking in, these sweet moments will be moving out.
  • Have Compassion For Your Middle Schooler – You were once in their shoes. Puberty is rough. All those body changes and friend changes. They do not know what is going on in their bodies and mind. They will need help and guidance even if they think they don’t.
  • Cut The Cord… Or Let It Out More – Probably the toughest one on the list. Your child is not a little kid anymore. They need to be more independent and they want to be. Give them some leeway to fail and learn from their mistakes. At this age, you cannot solve all their problems anymore. Show them you trust them.  The school does not want helicopter parents, but they still want you to be involved. 
  • Give Your Child More Responsibilities – My daughter makes her own lunch. Twice a week she is allowed to buy it. She folds her own laundry, keeps her room clean, helps with feeding the cats. She is in charge of her homework and knows there are repercussions if it is not handed in. Next up, loading the dishwasher!

What do you fear about Middle School? Any other handy tips? 


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