Monday, March 17, 2014

Middle School, friends that are girls, and growing up

Photo courtesy of Camera Shy
I love this picture of Zac from our family picture photo session because it shows off all the best things about him. How handsome he has become, his quirky attitude, and my most favorite smile. As you can see, he is definitely not a little kid anymore but in my mind he looks a lot more like this.

Last week I took that not so tiny boy and registered him for Middle School. We attended the orientation assembly where he sat with his friends and, most of the time, pretended I didn't exist. He picked a bunch of elective classes, with lots more choices that I remember being available in 7th grade. And together we turned in his paperwork and took a tour of his new school. For the first part of the tour I felt like I was leading around little Zachie who was barely old enough for preschool. Then I turned to tell him something and noticed my eyes were level with his nose. 

Zac is so ready to start his new adventure. Almost all of his friends from the neighborhood started Middle School last year. Voices are starting to drop. They all pass the sacrament and go to Young Men's Activities. Zac is choosing which books, movies, and TV shows are appropriate. He knows the "truth" about Santa and the Tooth Fairy, what all the "naughty" words really mean, and lots about the birds and the bees. His school acquired Chromebooks for everyone in the 6th grade and to login he needed his own gmail account. Now he has to check his email several times a day. He has already designed a website with a friend and can't wait until he turns 13 and can obtain his own Youtube account and start posting videos. 

He is a great kid, but growing up is hard stuff. From friends that don't get along, to walking the fine line between friends that are girls and the other thing girls could be someday, to learning how to be responsible for your own schoolwork. Here I am sitting on the sidelines watching him grow, and I still don't know what I'm doing. So we have lots of talks. I'm pretty sure Zac hates most of them. I'm constantly asking him to "tell me what he is feeling." He wants to sulk to his room and stay there alone for eternity. I remember those days. I'm not sure that I'm ready to be a parent to that yet. But my lack of readiness does not stop him from growing. 

Zac and Scott spent most of Sacrament Meeting yesterday writing notes back and forth across the bench and having a discussion so serious I was not allowed to read anything they wrote. It was a guy thing. Then after a wonderful time in nursery, Zac came in early and helped the kids clean up the toys basically by himself. I was holding one who fell asleep, and Scott was frantically searching for a few misplaced favorite toys. Zac played with the kids, sang with them, cleaned up the mess, and passed them off to their parents without any grumbling at all.

After the meeting we had a grown up talk about grown up things just Scott, Zac, and I where we spoke about serious things. How we want to protect him, while at the same time giving him privacy with his friends. Then he opened up about something personal that had hurt his feelings. By the end we were all laughing and giggling. Later that night we sent the twins to bed and the older kids got to stay up an hour past bedtime to watch a show with Mom and Dad. As Chloe hid in her blanket each commercial break bemoaning all the "cliff hangers", Zac discussed the motivation and intricate details of the characters. 

My life is no longer four kids in diapers, turned around locks for sleepwalkers, or naps. It is now full of after school activities, homework, and lots of in depth conversations about what we each think about the world. It's weird and scary and so much fun. Luckily I have the parents of Zac's friends already attending Middle School to call when I don't know how to fill out the forms. I have the cute 8th grade daughter of a neighbor to pat my arm and tell me Middle School is really fun and I shouldn't worry, but that I can call her when I'm freaking out way more than Zac is about it. And I have a strong willed child who won't back down from anything he knows is right, and for now is still willing to tell me every little thing that hurts him. 

I'm going to try to remember to enjoy this new life while I've got it because I'm pretty sure, as soon as I figure out how to parent a preteen, Zac will be driving a car. And on that thought, lets all take a few deep breaths together. 

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