Hey friends. I’m just writing to let you know that I’m surviving the Middle Years here. You may not have seen me much lately, because I spend most of my time in the car, but I still exist and we’re doing well!
Our son is nine. He’s now considered “upper elementary” which means all the activity doors are open and for some reason we’ve decided to walk through as many as possible all at the same time. He also prefers face-to-face play time, so most days we either have an extra kid (read: stomach) in our house or we can hear him definitely not using his inside voice playing Roblox with his “bruhs.”
From the bedroom.
With the door shut.
And pillows over our heads.
But we’re surviving. I connect with him every morning on the drive to school when ONE of us has forgotten to go over the spelling words because we were an hour away at a basketball game until 9pm. Or was that the time we played Mario until 11pm on a school night? Either way. We’re still connecting. He got some Nerf guns for his birthday and I’m his favorite target. He still wants his back rubbed and he still flops and fidgets on the couch when he gets tired. That’s not annoying at all. And when he finally crashes I can ALMOST still carry him to bed.
It’s a sweet season that I would breathe in deeply if his feet didn’t smell so bad.
Our daughter, on the other hand, is now smack in the middle years of middle school. I don’t think I need to explain that too much. (We don’t want to scare away the toddler moms, now do we?) Needless to say, the longest twenty minutes of my life is the drive home.
After-school restraint collapse is real.
After-school restraint collapse of a twelve year old girl who hates math and seventh period is next-level.
My tongue is nearly chewed off from biting it 90% of the time. I’m learning to listen. A lot. Questions aren’t really allowed. Nagging is definitely off the table. Reminders are rude. Suggestions are good fodder for the classic eye roll. But talking back has actually shifted sides, so that’s fun. She grunts a lot. She prefers to eat junk. She spends a lot of time in her room or in the bathroom. And while I think she is absolutely gorgeous, I surprisingly do a lot of image counseling even though it’s become clear that I can’t hold a straight iron. Not to mention we’re slowly entering the “sleep is crucial” era that doesn’t pair very well with the “I need a full 16 waking hours of unscheduled, unsocial time by myself” era. Speaking of that, I feel like somewhere between traveling the globe and having children I missed every decade of Taylor Swift’s Eras.
So I’m basically irrelevant.
But when we do connect, it’s super fun! I can see the little, tiny adult peeking out from behind this cloud of a growing and changing child. She loves tacos, and we watch Bluey, and I can tell her stories from work while she tells me stories from school. I am allowed to ask her opinion on things, and she usually gives thoughtful answers. (While I practice validating her ideas, even if they’re ‘off.’) And on really special occasions, if I take the time to stay up late, when vampires and tweens are the most active, I can even have deep conversations about boys and puberty and friends and life…all prompted by her.So we are indeed surviving these middle years. If surviving means taking one day at a time and hoping you don’t speak or look or breathe or chew the wrong way.
I know that these are years of change. That identities are being formed and worldviews are finding their footing. I know that we’ll make mistakes and we’ll ALL need lots of forgiveness. And I know that as a family we are setting a foundation for the rest of their lives. Eek!