Last year as my twins finished sixth grade, my anxiety bubbled to the surface. All summer long, I worried about their impending transition to the junior/senior high school for seventh through twelfth graders.
As August approached, my fears grew more intense as I thought of all the unanswered “what if” questions that rattled through my mind.
How would they handle riding the bus with twelfth graders?
How would they navigate the stress of a rotating schedule and a grueling course load with six different teachers?
And more importantly, how would they remember their locker combination when they can’t remember how to close the refrigerator door?
I’m able to make light of the situation now because when last school year ended I realized they had one of the best years yet. And I know it was not worth worrying about all last summer. If I could go back in time here’s what I would tell myself:
Navigating a New School
My Fear: That they would get lost trying to find their classes and end up hiding in the bathroom. I envisioned them texting me from the stall, “Help, I have no idea where I am right now.”
Reality: They loved being at a new school with different teachers for each subject. If they got lost they did what any normal person does—they asked for directions (no texting necessary).
My Fear: They would have no one to eat lunch with and end up eating in the bathroom (again hiding in the bathroom—I need to stop watching all the teen movies and TV shows that portray this as a reality).
Reality: Both of them actually made more new friends this past school year than any other school year because they were able to choose tables (in the past they had assigned seats) and their friends introduced them to new people.
My Fear: They would not remember their locker combination causing them to be unprepared or late for class.
Reality:They did not even try to remember their locker combination and brought all their books to all their classes. By the end of the year, they had better lat muscles than a bodybuilder.
My Fear: They would miss the bus and be late for school since the bus arrived at 6:40 am, which is rather early for my night owls.
Reality: They did miss the bus (only once) but I drove them and they ended being there before the bus arrived. I should also add that all year I barked like a drill sergeant, “Get your shoes on, eat your breakfast, it’s getting late.” The last week of school I decided not to say a word and they were on time and my voice wasn’t hoarse by 7 am. They even set their own alarm and made their own breakfast, two fewer things I had to do.
Riding the Bus with 12th Graders
My Fear: The twelfth graders would harass and bully my sweet little twin thirteen-year-olds like that older brother in Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
Reality: Most twelfth graders drove to school and if they were on the bus they were too busy watching YouTube videos to even notice a seventh grader.
Waiting at the Bus Stop
My Fear: They would be kidnapped or hit by a car.
Reality: I walked with them to the bus stop until the end of school, not because of fear but because I liked spending those extra ten minutes with them. They actually use complete sentences in the morning. Their sleepy disposition must suppress the teen part of the brain that utters only one-word responses to all questions.
More Challenging School Work
My Fear: They would not be able to handle all the homework and schoolwork and end up repeating seventh grade. I definitely don’t remember 7th-grade math formulas, science or social studies so I would need to hire expensive tutors and pay for summer school.
Reality: One of the best things about the new school is the teachers stayed after school every day for extra help. Both of my kids took advantage of this perk and for each semester they earned either honor roll or high honor roll recognition. Now I’m worried about them going off to college one day without me—sigh.
As the year came to a close I thought, “We survived.” And so will you. If your teens are starting a new school, don’t stress about it as I did. Instead, know they will be fine. Teens are much more resilient than we give them credit for. Now if only I could figure out how to get them to remember to close the refrigerator door.