Today is the official first day of school. Yesterday was a sort of ramping up day, because our district did a reshuffling of grades in the schools. Leah went for three hours in the morning, but it was all getting to know you games and fun stuff and it was only the sixth graders. Today, it’s the real thing. Middle school. Ready or not.
We got to the bus stop and it was a far different scene from yesterday morning. Then it was a handful of girls, close in size and youthful appearance as Leah, and their moms a few feet away, chatting. Today a large gathering of eighth grade girls stood confidently chatting and squealing greetings at one another, across the street from the sixth graders who didn’t know whether to stay where their mothers dropped them, or dart across the road and join the hoard. A few moms waited in their cars. I was the only one standing with the kids. I would have walked away, but Leah didn’t seem the least inclined to go it alone. Part of me wanted to put my arm around her shoulder and say “How about we go home and I teach you, like we did last year?” But I didn’t, because she is so ridiculously excited to finally be meeting kids her age and jumping back into the craziness of school. And she’s growing up, and I have to let her.
I kept telling myself that, as the lump in my throat got bigger and bigger. When the bus arrived and she crossed the street to join the hoard and was swallowed up by sixth, seventh and eighth grade kids, every single one bigger than she is. It was like that scene from the Charlie Brown book I used to read my kids about the Little Red Haired Girl. Charlie Brown finally gets up the nerve to talk to her on the very last day of school and races to meet her at the bus stop. And then all the other kids come pouring out of the school and plow right over him in their rush to board the bus.
See how he totally disappears? That was Leah, getting on the bus. It’s bad enough being a summer-birthday sixth grader. Throw in some petite Cambodian genes and well, it’s a good thing my girl has so much spunk, is all I’m saying.
Dear Middle Schoolers: Please be nice to my little girl. She’s new. And if you hurt her, I will hunt you down and squash you like a bug. Thanks, and have a nice day.