Since my oldest son is going into the eighth grade, and my youngest into the sixth, I feel that I am now a brilliantly qualified and knowledgeable middle school parent. I thought I’d share all the things I’ve learned having a son in middle school for the past couple of years. I’ve made a list. Pin it to your bulletin board. Hang it on your refrigerator. Keep it in your wallet. Whatever you need to do to keep this list with you, do it. It will save you from anger, frustration and heartache as your child grows, leaves elementary school, and moves on into his or her middle school years. I only have boys, so the list will be written for boys, but I’m pretty sure a lot of these helpful suggestions can work with both sexes. Read carefully and thoroughly, and share with your friends. As middle school parents, we must unite.
1) Allow the child to wake in the morning slowly and quietly. Use a soft voice to stir him out of his slumber, not exactly a whisper, but not full voice, either. Do not rush him. Do not prod him, and by all means, DO NOT sing to the child. Singing will most certainly cause profound deafness to child’s very sensitive and precious ears. Also, do not open shades on any windows in the child’s bedroom or anywhere the child may walk when he eventually wakes. Doing so will result in screaming, yelling, and perhaps, on rare but awful occasions, crying. And for the love of God, do not turn on any lights.
2) Do not mention armpit hair. Yes, as your son grows, hair will grow in places that will mortify and stun you. We know it happens. We think we are prepared, but as new middle school parents, we are not. When you first observe said strands of hair, do not exclaim, “Oh my God, you’ve grown the armpit hair!” Doing so will result in the same reaction from the child as mentioned in the above rules about waking the child. Just ignore the hair, go in your bedroom closet with a pillow, and scream into it. Cry if you must. Your baby is now a man-child. I know it hurts.
3) In keeping with my suggestion above, and in order to avoid a “hairy” situation, do not, no matter what, even if the bathroom has caught fire and you can see flames shooting out from under the bathroom door, walk in on the child when he is taking a shower. The child will suffer trauma that can never be reversed, and you will see more of the hair. There are not enough years of therapy that can fix this mistake. Trust me on this one. YOU DO NOT WANT TO SEE THIS. DO NOT DO IT. Walk away and thank me later.
4) Do not force the middle school child to eat. They eat when they are hungry. However, at the same time (and this can be a tough one to figure out), do not forget to make food in case said child, at some point in the day (or night), wants to eat. No matter if you have fed the child in the middle of the afternoon, and you think he may not be hungry at dinnertime because of the late lunch, do not forget to make dinner. Apparently, (and yes, I’ve only recently learned this), the middle school child can starve in a matter of hours. To be safe, just have food on hand at all times, or at least fill the kitchen with easy to make meals that the child can throw in the microwave in the middle of the night, or whenever he might suffer from hunger.
5) Do not ask the child questions the minute you pick them up, or they arrive home from a day at school. Much like the husbands who live in our homes, ladies, the middle school child does not want to answer any questions when he comes home from his day at the “office” (school). Examples of questions completely off limits are as follows:
- a) Did you have a nice day?
- b) How is (insert name of best friend here)?
- c) What did you have for lunch?
- d) What’s your favorite class so far?
- e) Who is your favorite teacher?
- f) How did you do on your math test?
6) Do not schedule “play dates” with other families and insist that your middle school child be involved. I don’t know that I need to elaborate on this one. Just don’t do it.
7) Do not speak of your child to other mothers. Do not tell them anything about your middle school child- what his likes are, what he doesn’t like, who his friends are, what he likes to do for fun- none of it. And for God’s sake, don’t ever tell another mother anything your child has said about another student, good or bad. Honestly, this one is serious, and all kidding aside, make sure you respect what your child does tell you and keep it between the two of you. Destroying trust will be devastating to you and your child.
8) Don’t ask your middle school child to give you details about an event he attended. In fact, just don’t expect to get details about anything he does, and you shall not be disappointed. For example, when your child comes home from a sleepover birthday party, you are to only ask one question (and when doing so, it’s best to have a plate full of homemade chocolate chip cookies to shove in the face of your child as the question flows out of your mouth). The question is this:
- a) How was the party?
Then you STOP. No more questions after that one. That is the only allowed question. Also, smile when you ask the question, but not too much. Too much smiling is bad. Try smiling with only your lips, no teeth. Ask the question. Give the cookie. Practice in front of your bedroom mirror a few times. You’ll get it.
9) If you happen to need to enter your child’s middle school at any time during the year, do so quietly and quickly. Watch Animal Planet and observe how the cheetah moves. See how the cheetah moves making no sound, running so fast that you almost cannot see him at all? That’s what you need to be. Be the cheetah. Get in, get your business done, and get out. And by all means, if you see your child, do not speak to him, and certainly do NOT go near him or
(God forbid), touch him.
10) If your child wants to invite friends to your house, be sure to have plenty of snacks available, as well as every brand and flavor of soft drink you are able to purchase in the grocery store. While you’re at it, buy a few packs of that flavored water, too. Keep in mind that although you may have all these things available, the children are likely to not eat or drink any of it, but if you do not have it there, the world quite possibly could end. And we don’t want that, do we? So buy all the stuff. Better safe than sorry.
11) If your child does have friends over, do not speak to them. It’s best to nod as they enter the home, hold up a plate of cookies, and gesture to the many varieties of soda you have available for them to drink. Again, smile just a little, not too much. Busy yourself with laundry or cleaning so they don’t think you are trying to figure out what they are doing in your home.
This is all I have for you thus far. I am sure I will have more rules as my children head into their eighth and sixth grade years. It’s an adventure, that’s for sure. I just hope I’m doing it right, and I hope these rules will help you along the way. Good luck!