I have a confession to make. Every day, Monday-Friday, when my daughter walks out of the house to go to school, I close the door, but I don't lock it. I don't lock it because a little voice in my head says she might run back and say, "I can't do it, mom. Please don't make me go."
She never has. But I persist in this habit because of what happened to
her older sister in middle school. She was miserable. I didn't really
understand the extent of it for quite a while. I look back with the
guilt that I should have helped sooner; I should have known.
She was bullied. She was bullied for being different, for not being rich
enough, thin enough, cool enough. For not wearing the right clothes or
thinking the right thoughts. For being too smart.
Day after day I drove her to school and as we got closer, she'd be
overcome by stomach aches and nausea. I had no choice--I had to go to
work and she had to go to school. She didn't tell me what was happening
because she knew I had no choice. I think it very nearly killed her.
Middle school is just rough, we tell ourselves. You're just unhappy no
matter where you are. But you just get through it. We all got through
Back to my youngest. She's having the awful growing pains of middle
school now. The academic work is manageable. The social challenges are
ongoing and often heartbreaking. We've done some intervening on her
behalf, with mixed success. We want her to know she can tell us
everything. But she is at the age where she is learning that you don't
always have to tell everything. And so we worry. What is happening that
we might not know?
I had the sudden realization this morning that, if I have never told her
that the door is open, then it might as well be locked. I think I
haven't told her because I haven't wanted to encourage her to bail out
if she is able to go on. But things have been hard lately. She needs to
know that I always have the door open for her. I *think* she knows...
"Middle school is rough, but we'll get through it. I want you to know I'll always keep a door open for you. No matter what."
You don't have to go through this alone.