Good lord, what happened? No, seriously though, how did you get to be this old? It seems like it was just last year that I put you on the bus the first day of kindergarten and followed it to school just to make sure you were fine (you were). Tomorrow you're starting high school and it is all surreal. Well, for me it is anyway. You seem perfectly okay with it all, especially since you've spent more time hanging out at the high school than anywhere else lately.
I wasn't prepared at all for what we were agreeing to when you said you wanted to do drumline last year, but I will forever be grateful that you did it. You've grown up so much just in these past few months, you've found something you love to do, a group of people that share that joy. I wonder now what high school might have been like for me if I'd have had half of your confidence back then, if I'd have been brave enough to join something as huge and time consuming as band. I see how much fun you're having, how excited you are to begin this next chapter. It's amazing.
This year is going to test you, push you, ask more of you. School is about to get a whole lot harder, in part because you asked for the challenge. You can do it, I know that you can. There are times it seems like you're being pulled in a million different directions and I can tell you that isn't going to get better any time soon. You just made Life Scout last night and I know you want to finish Eagle. That won't be easy either, but I know you can do it. We're here to help.
Friendships are going to change more than they already have. You'll meet so many new people. Some of your old friends will still be there, some of them won't. Sometimes you'll understand why people leave, sometimes you won't, and it will always hurt at least a little bit. You're going to fall in love, and chances are that someone who has no idea how lucky they are to have you love them won't appreciate it. That sucks and there's no way I can tell you to avoid it because it's just part of life. I'm supposed to tell you that whoever you meet in high school won't matter ten years from now, that high school relationships don't last...but you know I can't do that because I was only a few months older than you are now when I met your father. It can happen.
Make good choices. (I'm going to say that a lot this year. Like A LOT. I'll probably yell it at you a few times.) Stay organized. Get your work done first, then do everything else. Learn a lot. Play hard. I'm proud of you.
It's weird because I'm sitting here not even sure where to start. You're so ready for school to start back, you've been prepping for it all summer. You read every book in the house, some of them twice. I even managed to convince you to read Jane Eyre.
School is your happy place. You love to learn, you love to be with your friends. You thrived in middle school last year, and now you're a veteran middle schooler. I don't have to tell you that because you already know.
I know you know.
This year will be one that teaches you many things, not the least of which is how to deal with a teacher you don't love. The downside to looping teachers is that if you get one that doesn't fit great, you're stuck with them for the duration. It's not the worst experience in the world though, because the truth is that you will always be surrounded by people that you don't get along with perfectly. Learning how to do what needs to be done anyway is a huge life skill. I wish you didn't have to learn it this way, but believe me when I tell you that you'll be glad you learned how to do it now instead of being forced to do it for the first time as an adult. You aren't going to like everyone and everyone isn't going to like you. Real life isn't preschool, and we don't have to all be friends. Honest.
You had me sign you up to play soccer again this year, this time through the school. It's been a couple of years since the last time you stepped off that field, and I know that there's always been a little piece of your heart that regretted giving it up. It will be hard, soccer has always been hard for you with your lungs. We'll have to wait and hope that you've outgrown at least some of that asthma. If not, though, we'll figure it out and do whatever we have to do to keep you running.
You've grown up so much this past year. You've made some amazing new friends, cultivated relationships with the ones who've always been there, seen more than a few fade into the background. And you've done all of it, every single bit of it, with grace. You've stayed as far away from drama as possible, you've bowed out of conflicts, you've said no thank you to the petty arguments and disagreements. Life will be much better for you if you can keep doing that.
Stay grounded. Keep learning how to deal with people you don't like, because that is never going to change. Stay quirky and unique and funny and kind. Continue to read everything you can get your hands on. Run as fast as you can. I'll be on the sidelines, just far enough away, cheering you on quietly so things don't get weird.
To Mini Me,
Walking into the school last night was bizarre. It didn't really hit me until then that you'd be the big kid on campus now. Back when we first moved here, when your brother started school there, you were just a baby. You learned to crawl in those hallways.
I remember how much you mourned the day when your brother finished there, when he wasn't going to be around anymore. You used to run up to him and hug him whenever you saw him on the playground. You thought it would be weird without him there, but it wasn't. You were fine. You thrived. Made a name for yourself instead of just being so and so's little sister.
Then your sister left. By then, though, anyone who knows you two had long since realized just how different you are. You are a million questions, with a little bit of worry and a whole lot of glitter. And now you're the big kid. It just doesn't even seem possible.
You've worked so hard this past year, pushing yourself more and more with reading. You read an entire chapter book in one day this summer, and if I'd told you last year that you'd do that someday you would have told me I was crazy. But you did it.
There is so much to look forward to this year for you, so many new experiences and adventures. So many opportunities await you in these next few months. Camping trips and choir concerts and projects and more. I know you worry about school getting harder. It has and it will continue to do that, but you're so much smarter than you ever give yourself credit for. I look at you and I see someone who has to fight a little harder for everything, but you do it. You always do it.
You know that your brain works a little bit differently than most peoples do, and that's okay. For so many years I believed that it was a hindrance, these brains of ours, yours and mine, but I know now that I was wrong. I was so wrong. We see the world in all the ways other people never do. We hear more, we see more, we feel more. Sometimes it takes everything in you to sort out the noise, to quiet the clutter, to concentrate on the task at hand...but you know what? Sometimes that chaos is really beautiful too.
Stay passionate. Keep working hard every single day. Believe in yourself, and know that if there is ever a moment when the doubt sneaks in, I'm here, rooting for you. You can do it. You can do anything. In heels.
To Little Boy,
When your teacher saw you last night and the first thing she noticed was that you've grown so tall, I choked up a little bit. You have grown. A lot. All the pants you've finally outgrown are evidence of that, but it's not just the length of your legs that has changed. Not even close.
When you started first grade last year, we were unsure how it would go. Nervous. To say that kindergarten had been rough for you would be an understatement. It was awful, almost all of it. You walked into first grade without the tools you needed, but your teacher equipped you quickly. She figured out your quirks, she caught on quickly to how you learn best. And you thrived.
This summer, we've spent so much time focusing on sight words, trying to boost that basic set of vocabulary to get you reading confidently. I hope we've made some progress. It feels like we have. You just need to remember that you can do this. Read it out loud if you have to. If it sounds wrong, correct it. If you don't know it, sound it out. I know it is hard, but I know you can do it.
Do your best in the classroom to listen, to behave. Be funny when it's okay to be funny. I know that sometimes you truly just need to run for the fences, and I hope that the schedules this year allow you to do that. When you get outside for recess or p.e., run. Trust me. Run. There's a reason I have you run around sometimes at home, and it's because you need to let that energy out.
Stay sweet and kind and generous. Work hard. Run whenever you get the chance. Do your best. I don't care how many spelling words you get right. I don't care how many math problems you can do correctly in a minute. I never have and I never will. Those things don't measure how smart you are, don't for one second believe that they ever could.
Last year when I wrote this, you were still living on the inside, stirring up trouble already. Determined to come into this world on your own terms, you were. As I write this, you're letting go of the furniture and taking 3 steps, then 4 steps, then 5 until you fall flat on your face, then getting up almost immediately and doing it again.
I can't wait to see who you are, aside from stubborn and persistent.
You could slow down just a little bit though. Your mom is old and sentimental and you're the last baby.
Humor her occasionally.