Friday, September 5, 2014

You've got this!

Starting a new school year is not easy for someone who dislikes change. Even though it's the same thing every year, it's the disruption in day to day living that will change. And, a new year is NEW so therein we have a double offense to our gossamer thin sensibilities.

I've written about the really hard transitions Genea has going from summer break - back to school several times. Notably because they have sucked mightily. We spent many an August month marinating in every circle of hell Dante thought up. Plus, I'm certain we invented a few more.

At any rate, I was pretty sure nothing less than renting out all of Disney World for ourselves would make a dent in this summers transition. It's been especially evil this time because...

 *cue drama music*

Genea changed over to  middle school.

Just the thought has sent my nerves tap dancing every year since she started kindergarten! The dread, I tell you, my stomach clenches just writing this. Not only was middle school the setting for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, it brings so many changes, oh dear lord the changes!

So we have talked about it A LOT. She had the usual fears, but escalated to hot-air balloon proportions. Since *we* still are not terribly clear on expressing ourselves with words and using our multiple calming strategies, *we* rely on our faithful EPIC TANTRUM. The Husband and I have done so much coaching we could write 7 books and still have plenty more to report. My best advice has been, smile, say hi,  keep your tongue tucked in your mouth, and it will work out. We told her, everyone is nervous, teachers too (she didn't believe me until I texted a college professor friend who confirmed). Even if it is the worse day of your life -and it won't be- it WILL end. Whatever happens, at 3:00 it's over.

Then I thought, if I describe to her some of the other scary things she has done over the past several years, she might see that while this is big, she has done LOTS of hard things and come out fine (ish).

"Look at ALL the hard stuff you have done! You rode a horse!  You walked to the park by yourself! You went zip-lining! You put your face under water! You perform on stage! You ride a bike! You did all that stuff and you can do middle school too! You've got this!"

I even told her I expected a whopper tantrum. Before anyone calls the Rotten Parenting Commission, I had reason. Because sometimes, it's okay. She would be doing a lot of new things and it would all be really hard on her. It might be too many things to manage and if it was overwhelming, go ahead and let it out. We'd work through it when she was done. With great pride (yes, that go-eth before great fall, I know), it turned out she handled it all minus the meltdown!

She accepted my offer of a ride the first day. We actually drove her to school for several years to avoid the chaos and frazzle of the morning bus. I always felt if she started her day freaked out because she could not control all those other kids, she would not make it through school without falling apart. Oh yeah, and learning stuff too. She took the bus home everyday. Anyway, she did not want me to walk her in, just drop her off in front of the building.


I appreciate it if you read through all this. Truth is, it's mostly a post so I have an excuse to brag and post these super cute pics.

First day of kindergarten! OMG she was so cute and LITTLE!

GET. Me. OFFA. This. BUS!

 Waiting to leave. Excellent posture suggests extreme stress.
Getting there. I told her dumb jokes and she relaxed a little.

Walking the wrong way to enter the building. Ah well, she figured it out. I dropped her off a good 20 minutes early.

She rocked her first day of middle school.

She's got this!


  1. I'm not sure if you know this (I feel like you probably do because you know a lot of things) but prescribing a tantrum (or some other symptom) is a therapeutic technique in strategic family therapy called a paradoxical intervention! Glad she rocked the first day. Here's to many more rockstar days this year!

    1. Yep, I read it first from the Nancy Thomas book- I think she calls it prescribing the problem? It kind of puts the kid in a double bind when I'm happy if she tantrums and happy if she doesn't!

  2. I'm amazed. Frankly middle school was the WORST couple of years of my life. It makes me feel sick inside just thinking of it. In retrospect I can see that the teachers, most of them, were really, really bad. (Science teacher who did not teach; he posted outlines on the overhead which we had to copy. Then, after a suitable period he posted an exam on the overhead.) Main thing was I could not see the damned words. I was "S" in the back of the room and the words were hard and small and (can I have that tantrum you mentioned?) And the BUS. Kids were cruel, profane, and entirely out of control on the bus. I'm probably Catholic today because my Presbyterian pastor's twin daughters promulgated the most (well, to me, then) obscene things on the the "Sex Survey". I was truly scandalized, hurt, and entirely miserable for two straight years. 8th grade was better.

    I think there's a psychology rule about that giving permission. I read it sometime, and play with it all the time. Someone looks like they are about to cry and I say,"Cry. That's fine... you need to cry." That makes them stop, tears in their tracks.

    1. Yes! Like Molly said - paradoxical intervention.

      Tell your brave girl that I think she is amazing.

    2. Aw geez, it sounds too much like my experience in middle school. Probably why I've dreaded it so much. Our "outline" teacher was social studies. The jerk. His assignments were either read the news and write a report, or read the book and write a report. the full extent of his teaching. A few others were horrible in a spectacular way. One took my jacket, waved it in front of me, threw it on the floor and demanded I pick it up. This, because I did not close my locker all the way!
      My parents lived 1/2 block away, so I didn't have to deal with the bus. Genea's good friend will be on it with her this year so I have hopes it will be okay. But seriously, kids that age can be just outright vile.
      I will tell her!

  3. Fabulous Essie. I love this and wow am I going to use the giving permission thing. I love that.

    1. I hope it works! If I'm asking Genea to do something that is going to cause her to freak out, like pick up her room, I'll prep her. Like, I know you are going to cry and scream so go ahead. Then, pick up your room. Or, just pick up your room :)

  4. y'all make me cringe with your middle school stories! kids can be horrific, but there is NEVER an excuse for the teachers. ever. i had to have a bizarre eye exam this summer. i was told the drops would glow in the dark if there was a black light. i asked for some so i could do that in my classroom--yes, i am THAT teacher! i LOVE my kids. yes, we have to do some notes, but we also have to learn and it's my privilege to teach. i would take all of your kids in a heartbeat and do my darnedest to give them their best math year ever.

    rant over. sorry. i get absolutely militant about teachers that don't.

    when Sonny the bipolar boy was in school, the bus was a terrible trigger. not only did he have issues with the noise, the behaviors, and the general wackadoo-ness of it, he was terrified that it would take him somewhere that i couldn't find him. i actually had to follow the bus from home to school for a few days before he felt comfortable enough to ride it--not alone-with his sisters.

    a mom's gotta do what a mom's gotta do. and you did it. and Genea made it. WAHOO for progress. and i love prescribing the behavior. gets stuff out of the way so fast! darn it when you have permission to lose your noodle. takes all the fun out of it!

    congratulations! wishing Genea and all y'all the best school year ever!

    1. See, you sound like the kind of awesome teacher I would have loved, and I think Genea has some like you now.
      It seemed like my middle school was a dumping ground for all the bitter, angry and burned out teachers. I mean, they were SO bad!


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