My oldest is “moving up” to middle school, and I have all the feelings

My oldest son entered kindergarten in September 2017, at the age of four. With a mid November birthday, he was one of the youngest students in the class.

Many around me questioned our family’s choice to put him in kindergarten — after all, the overwhelming trend was/is to let kids with late birthdays wait another year. I certainly wondered, at times, if we made the right call. Yet, in my heart, I knew he belonged there.

Sure enough, my oldest continued to thrive. His academic and social skills kept improving, and, by second grade, I couldn’t imagine him being in a grade below, even if some of those kids were in fact older than him.

Today my son is nine years old and finishing up his last year of elementary school as a fourth grader. I will admit, I am a bit anxious about him starting middle school as just a nine-year-old fifth grader. Then, I remind myself of how well he has done in elementary school, how his current teacher said he was more than ready to start middle school, and how enthusiastic my son is about moving on to a new school.

I am assured the teachers and staff at the middle school are prepared to help my son and his peers transition from the more “hand-holding” style of elementary school to the more “personal-responsibility” style of middle school. I know the fifth grade experience is different from the eighth grade, and that my kid won’t be tossed into a situation without a life vest.

I am thrilled to see what activities my son will embrace during his middle school years. He has already decided to continue with band, and is hopeful the “Harry Potter” club will form up again. I wonder if he may even start his own clubs, run for student government, or spearhead a charitable campaign.

I am nervous for him to go through all the angst and agony that is adolescence. Though I know he is still a couple of years away from full-blown puberty, the clock is ticking fast, and soon he will be dealing with new body odors, hair in strange places, and all the other wonderful stuff that comes along with growing up.

I worry about how he will go through all of those changes all while in an environment where kids can be cruel.

I hope my son continues to be the strong, confident person he is, and uses those skills to defend himself and stand up for others against those who might wish to do harm.

I hope he remembers to choose kindness and be the voice of what’s right, even when it is hard.

As this elementary school days end, and he prepares for many “firsts” (including his first experience attending an overnight camp this summer), I know my son will face each new moment with love and support behind him.

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