Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Transitions & Growth

Why is change so scary and hard for us?

There must be a built-in instinct to avoid change because the new and unknown is a crap shoot.  We feel vulnerable, freshman-like and uncertain.  It's hard to be a beginner unless we let go of our illusory control and instead, trust that everything tends to work out and that we will figure it out, with enough resources and social support.

My girl has always cried at the beginning of a new school year, on the first day of summer camp, on the first day of art class...well, you get the idea.

Now she is transitioning to middle school and even I'm a little scared!  The dreaded middle years of childhood.  I won't even work at a middle school as a social worker.  I remember saying that these were the years that I would consider home schooling her.

We found a wonderful arts and technology magnet school in our public school district.  They have student poetry slams and student film festivals. During a tour last Spring, my girl remarked, "this is my school."

She is not crying but she has the jitters and lots of important questions:

  • will there be school dances?  what do the girls wear - dresses or jeans?
  • what if the older kids bully me?
  • will I make friends?
  • will the other kids like me?
  • if I break a uniform policy rule, will the Principal announce it on the PA system?
  • what if I can't remember my locker combination?  what if I don't turn it the right way?
  • what does the school do for Christmas? for Halloween?

Sometimes mama's words ring hollow because she expects me to say loving and supportive things.  That is something she now takes for granted.  So I enlisted family and friends to share their own advice, support and stories about middle school.  These are some of the texts she has received so far:

Paoli!! Ur gonna love middle school!! Yes it will be a little nerve racking at first, but that feeling will pass just as it has every time you've done something new. And believe me, the other kids will be nervous too, so u will not be alone. You are smart, have a great personality, and a great sense of style!...The kids are gonna love you! Hugs Paoli!  
Hi ale, would you tell paoli that since I worked at a middle school up here, I realized middle school is pretty much the same everywhere. The scared feelings are very normal and all the students have them. Some kids just hide it better. Just remember that you are loved very much by your family n friends. Watch Michael Phelps win his next swim medal too!  
Paolina, jitters? That sounds so familiar! The night before my first day of middle school I was super nervous about everything. What would I wear? Where would I sit? Who would I know in my classes? When I got there, the school felt huge! I felt like a tiny kite in a big, big sky! When the bell rang for lunch on that first day I was too shy and too scared to ask where I was supposed to go. Can you believe it? So my soggy sandwich and I found a spot to eat away from everything. I reached in my brown paper bag and found a note scribbled from my momma. All it said was "I love you." and then I knew that even though I felt sooo lonely in that moment, I would never be alone because my mama loved me. I hope this story of my soggy, lonely sandwich helped! (and the lesson would be to ask where the lunch area is - haha) I really wish you the best first day and first middle school lunch! P.S. Your mama loves you!
Hey, Paoli, it's Sarah :) So I hear you are worried about middle school?  Why?! Middle school is where I met my best friends and we are still friends today! and I'm about to be 21 :o) haha
There's always sunlight when we walk in God's hands and path.  Despite the clouds coming in, the light guides us even in the darkness.  U will be ok and so will your doll.  I love you both, hermana. 
I am soo grateful for friends, family and their stories, love and support. I don't know where I'd be without them.  I shudder to think.  May your circle of support grow stronger too.

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