I suppose I was fortunate to have an older brother who let me know, in no uncertain terms, that I had it easy in elementary school. I had better buck up and be prepared for everlasting torment. Or at least three years of it.
Those warnings ring in my ears as I try to help my son get ready for his first year in middle school. Not unlike me, he gives the outward appearance of a kid who has nothing to fear. He seems eminently capable of making good choices and staying out of trouble. But it's not his choices that I'm worried about.
I'm worried about the choices being made by kids around him. I'm worried about the choices those kids' parents make. And don't get me started about the teachers. And then there's P.E. How does one prepare for the rigors and potential embarrassment of middle school Physical Education?
Yesterday I insisted that my son accompany me on my daily run. It was a hot day, so we agreed to make it short. Even though he was right in the middle of what looked like a very intense Lego creation, he agreed to come along. When we left the house, he needed a little nudge to get him going, but we kept chugging along. We worked our way near the top of the hill, and he slowed to a walk. True to the assertion he had made to me earlier, he was looking at the things he saw around him. "That's why I don't like to run the whole time," he told me.
So I slowed down, but I kept moving too, imagining what a P.E. teacher might say to a kid who stopped in the middle of a lap around the track to inspect a piece of cardboard that had been left the night before. I chose not to say anything, and we picked up our pace again as we made our way down to the next corner. This was the way we made our way around the block. That is, until we reached the top of the last hill, where he let himself tumble forward, arms and legs flopping around, dashing headlong down to the bottom. Every few steps, he would skip, then run a few more, and skip again. I heard the coach's voice in my head once again, and I told it to be quiet. I was watching my eleven-year-old son get his exercise. It's summertime, and the living is easy. Middle school? Well, we'll figure that one out.