sneaking into the middle school years…

Middle school.

Two words that bring more fear into my heart than any, except for maybe “oncoming puberty.” This last year, with all of the craziness and chaos involved with Timmy’s birth, disability and our family adjusting to a new normal, one thing that has slipped through the cracks is my little girl moving into the middle school years. As most parents, I look at her and find myself thinking, “How could she grow up so quickly? What happened to that little baby girl that I held in my arms just yesterday??” 11025113_10206489200853892_7091371226460962277_nMy little princess just turned 11 years old and is already dealing with a lot of the struggles and pains of middle school, even though she is not officially there yet. She has begun to question whether she is beautiful, and why she gets along so well with the boys but wrestles with how to relate to her girlfriends. And while my first reaction is to put anyone who hurts my girl in a cardboard box and bury them somewhere remote, the reality is that I am really struggling with how she is changing and how it feels like I am losing my little girl.

When I look back at the time when I was Abbie’s age, I struggle to remember what it was like and how I felt. The year before, my family moved from Michigan to Colorado and everything changed for me. The friends I had created the first ten years of my life were gone and I moved into a new school with new rules, a new environment and most importantly, new classmates. I struggled almost daily with whether anyone liked me, and where I fit in, and whether I would have any friends. Sound slightly familiar? Everyday my brother & I would ride the city bus downtown to my mother’s workplace, where my brother & I would sit in the employee lounge and wait for mom to get out of work, all while I wondered inside whether I would ever fit in and be one of the “cool kids.” Then as I transitioned into the middle school years, I found two friends who became my best friends and made me feel like I was somebody. We spent free times at school together, and hung out after school a lot, and soon I felt like I could have good friends. No, I never was in the “cool crowd”, but I was learning how to have friends and most importantly, how to BE a good friend.

The other thing that hits me when I look back is how much worse I saw things than what they were in reality. At times, I honestly saw myself as having no friends, and being the most disliked kid in the school, all while the reality was that I was friends with most of my classmates and got along pretty well. No, I was not the most popular, but I also was not the most disliked. And the funny thing is that when I talk to others about their middle school years, many of them relay the same story. At the time, they felt much worse about themselves and their place in their world than what they should have, based on reality. And maybe that is where I can help my precious angel the most? Maybe I cannot be her protector every moment of the day, but maybe I can help her process through her reality right now, and help her see how amazing she really is? Maybe the most important thing I can do for her is to be her biggest cheerleader, screaming out her praises when her heart & hormones scream just the opposite?

Like I said earlier, I am really struggling with this and am worried that I will not be able to be the father and friend that my princess needs me to be these next few years. Do you feel the same? Are you in the same boat that I am, wanting to be everything for your kids but knowing how faulty and weak you are? If so, I would urge you to join me in listening to Focus’ broadcasts on navigating the middle school years. (http://www.focusonthefamily.com/media/daily-broadcast#?curPage=1) And if you have already made it through and know the fears I am facing, I would love to hear how you did it. This clueless dad could use any suggestions you may have!

(This post was originally posted on the Dad Matters blog page)

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~ by kuiperactive on February 1, 2015.

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