We are just over half way through our first middle school adventure. Everybody says middle school is the toughest of the school years and they aren’t lying.
We recently attended spring parent/teacher conferences. Dear Husband and I came away with the same conclusion; some teachers get our kid and some teachers do not. To those teachers who can’t seem to understand him or don’t want to take the time or can’t find the time to dig deeper…they are dead to me. At this point in the year we are just trying to get past the finish line. My energy in trying to get teachers on our side is spent.
Look…there will always be teachers who are spread too thin, who don’t understand Addison, who have bigger problems in the classroom than his distracted personality. I get it. They have too much to do and too little resources to do it with. They think he is a good kid because he doesn’t back talk or tell the teacher to f-off when asked to do an assignment. And the kids who do tell teachers to f-off get the attention because negative attention is still attention. Meanwhile, kids who act like normal human beings but don’t stun everyone with their amazing test scores or oratory skills fly below the radar and slip through the cracks.
But there are going to be teachers who get him and subjects that he gives two craps about and when that happens, rainbows may blast out of a unicorn’s butts instead of gently arching across the sky in a shower of love and light. And that is pretty dang special in and of itself.
We saw him light up (as much as that is possible for a sulky thirteen year old) when we visited his fine arts teachers. We saw mutual respect and admiration and felt a ray of hope warm our cold, jaded middle-school-parent hearts.
Early in the year I felt the despair that he wasn’t fitting into the mold, that he wasn’t performing like the “normal” student, that his grades were cause for alarm. At this check point I was reminded that not every kid fits into the same classroom mold or meets preconceived expectations and that’s okay.
As we inch towards the seventh grade finish line, all of those things are mostly still true but I don’t feel quite as hopeless. Yes, there will be bad grades and teachers we don’t understand. But maybe there will be teachers we do understand and who understand him. Maybe there will be subjects and classes he enjoys and those might make the ones he hates a little more bearable.
Ever so slowly I’m releasing my need to understand and make sense of middle school. I’m trying to loosen my grip on preconceived ideas about what success in school looks like. Every day is a struggle, but little by little I’m learning to understand that my kid’s experience won’t fit into the one-size-fits all box that we thought education was going to be.
Middle school isn’t storybook unicorns and rainbows but every now and then a rainbow out of a unicorn’s butt is pretty awesome.