Spring is around the corner and summer is absolutely screaming my name. My girls are excited for softball, sleeping in, and lazy days at the pool.
Two of them, however, have some anxiety. One is graduating from elementary to middle school and the other from middle school to high school.
It doesn’t matter that their siblings have gone before them and survived—even thrived.
The anxiousness that appears on my youngest’s face when she talks about lockers and moving classrooms is center stage. Her anxiety is real as is her excitement. Favorably for her, all of her siblings loved middle school and have been talking it up. A little more freedom, a little more excitement. “You actually get to choose a class or two!”
Her smile falters when she looks at me. She knows I can see through the bright eyes and smiles she is showing her siblings. I give her a hug and my little hides tears against my chest.
Later that night, my girl moving on up to the big house—high school—came to me. Her face mirrored that of her sister’s earlier in the evening. Big eyes, full to brim, a slight smile, “Mom?”
We talked through it. The first feeling she has is excitement and we play off that. It’s a fabulous launching point, setting the stage for dealing with the good things to come. And then we tackle the questions that result in fear. Getting lost…being organized…and the biggest worry on her mind…Friendships. Relationships. Missing people. Losing friends. Finding new friends.
My soon to be high schooler straight out said, “I’m good at studying so I’m not worried about the academics. I know it’ll be harder and I’m ready. But what if I don’t see the friends I have and what if I can’t make new friends?”
The “what ifs” just kept coming.
I let her go until she was finished. No interruptions, no words from me. I could see the stress leave her body through the words she chose to let leave her mouth. She finished and just stared at her fingers as she weaved them together and took them apart…again and again.
The things is…I think my kid rocks. Of course, I’m sure she’ll have amazing friends and will be a good friend to those she encounters. I can’t imagine anyone not loving her smile, bubbly energy, and silliness that comes out whenever she deems fit…which is frequently. The fact that she is worried blows my mind. But then again…I’m her mom and I think she’s awesome.
We discuss strategies until she’s calm and comfortable. We talk about being positive. We touch on what to do if things don’t go well. But we focus on the exciting and upcoming changes.
These kids are growing up. It doesn’t matter to them that many have gone before and survived. They want to know they’re going to be okay.
That they will do well, have fun, like and be liked. My job is to make sure they have the tools to make all of those things happen.
We’re set and ready. Until…they ask about dating. That’s a whole different conversation.