I had a very vivid nightmare a few years back, the kind that really sticks with a person. I dreamed that, despite having several advanced degrees under my belt, someone discovered that I never finished high school and that I would have to complete those credits in order for everything in my life that followed to count. If you knew how much I hated school you would understand the magnitude of this nightmare. But at least it wasn't middle school. You're with me here, right? Who didn't think middle school was a nightmare?
Well, I hope it won't be so terrible the second time around.
I never thought I'd be a helicopter parent but I don't know what else you'd call me. In a few hours I'll be going to school with my son. Middle School. I hadn't planned for this to happen but then we got an invitation to sit in on a class for 40 minutes each day this week and, since Oliver doesn't have an aide yet, and because right now I'm the only one he can type with, I'll be going to school with my son. Middle School.
And the thing is: Oliver is pretty mortified, too. He is not taking this in his usual agreeable manner. When I told him, he politely wrote: "I really believe that things will start out better if you just let me do it on my own."
And can I tell you how that made my heart soar? First: this kid is so kind and generous in the things he says. He didn't say: "Holy Hell! The last thing I want is for my MOM to go to school with me on the first day!" Secondly, I don't think I can ever fully convey what it feels like to see this kid setting his own goals. I didn't tell him that he had to type independently before enrolling in school. That was his idea from the start. And now that he can do it? He wants to tackle the world! And I don't blame him. He has earned this fair and square.
Then, last night when we were typing together, with great teary sadness he wrote: "I don't want you to go to school with me." So we tried for him to type on his own a little, meaning I stood in the hall, saying words of encouragement because even though I don't touch Oliver anymore when he types I DO sit next to him for moral support. But for every letter he got correct, he hit five or six wrong ones. I was so proud of his determination, despite the fact that it was anchored in a deep desire to, you know, not spend that extra hour today with me! In the end he was terribly disappointed that he couldn't manage on his own.
Then: "You told me I would have someone to help me."
So, I explained that he doesn't yet have an aide and that he would have to practice typing with that person and so for this week, anyway, and maybe a little longer I would have to go with him so he can participate.
"So," I asked, "are you OK with me going with you tomorrow?"
"Yes. I think that knowing that it is just for a little while helps."
Yeah. You got that right, buddy!