Not one time during pregnancy did I think about this stage. From birth to pre-school it was just the two of us. Going to the park, grocery shopping, watching Sesame Street. It's an exhausting time and you end up getting caught up in potty training and making sure they learn to say please and thank you. Here's a fact that I have learned the hard way. Did you know that the older kids get the crueler they become? It's true. Of course not all kids. Just a lot of them and damn are they savage. When you're in kindergarten another kid might tell you that your picture sucks or you might feel that too familiar sting of not having a partner because every other kid already coupled up. That sucks. I'm sorry but having the teacher as your partner is not a fun time. But even that doesn't suck as bad as the middle school age. First, let me say that we were blessed with a daughter in 2005. From grade one until this very day she has always had "that thing." That thing where everything comes easy for a person. That thing. She always had straight A's. Always had a million friends. She was literally invited to a playdate or birthday party every weekend. She made parenting, dare I say, easy. In 2007 we had our son. Of course I love my daughter but for some strange kismet, he was my heart. I felt the need to hold him tighter and for much longer. Maybe it's because he was my last baby....Baby #3 is a whole different blog.
As life progressed and he went into 3rd grade and I began worrying about him. Actually, it was his 3rd grade teacher who planted the seed. During a parent/teacher conference she coldly mentioned that my son had no friends and spent most of recess sitting alone rather than playing like the other kids. This was not only a punch to the gut but completely surprising. I spent the next couple of years volunteering in his classes, talking to his counselor and making sure I was always present. He still struggled. You see, my son has always had friends, but he's never HAD friends. He would come home and tell me stories about recess and how much fun he had playing football. He always told me about goofy conversations tat he had had with other kids at lunch over his favorite chicken patty sandwich. He was stubborn during homework time and house cleaning day, but he always managed to make me laugh or melt my heart with his kind words.
Fast forward to 2019. New school year, new school. fresh start. We spent the summer trying to get him excited for the next big step. More kids to meet, more freedom, more of a chance to come into your own. That first day I was sweating bullets. When I dropped him off at school I took his picture and told him how proud I was and how excited he should be. I sat in my car and watched him walk all alone to that big new frontier I cried. I also prayed. I prayed that he would find "his people," I prayed that he would become excited to get up in the morning. Elementary school was totally a fluke. Things were about to get better. This is where that whole part about kids being crueler as they grow older comes in. It's no longer about how you color outside of the lines or getting teased about forgetting your snow pants on a cold day. It slowly becomes about whether or not they are worthy to even be on this planet. This child. The one that I carried and birthed and loved every single second of the day, now has a rando kid telling him he has zero worth. And, for some reason the thousands upon thousands of times I've professed my love to my son, that all falls away. In that moment he is faced with someone who wants nothing more than to hurt him. WT actual F? Now think back to when you were in school. There was always that one horrible kid, but he/she were always surrounded by other kids. Kids afraid to step up and defend the weak. Middle School is survival of the fittest. This has now gone on for weeks. My son, once happy and goofy, now cries every night and begs me not to make him go back. He calls me during lunch because he wants someone to talk to while he eats. He also says that he hates himself. I want to hold him and never let him leave the house again. The world is a scary place,. He will be safe with me. My first instinct: Punch every one of those kids in the face. Illegal. Second instinct: threaten every person and thing that they love. Also, illegal. Third" punch them all in the face. 1 and 3 are the same. Sorry. Again, illegal.
So here's my quandary. What do I do? How do I get through the day without crying and wondering if he's hurting. Will this get better? Please tell me your stories. Tell me not to worry. Tell me he's going to be okay.
DISCLAIMER: I'm really tired and I have a headache, so please ignore any typos or run on sentences or whatever.