Over the last decade or so of raising
dear god what is that smell boys, one thing I’ve heard over and over is that boys are hard when they’re young and get easier as they get older. I’ve also been told girls are the opposite. I’m holding the world to that semi-promise, as I think I’ve pretty much done my time with the oh holy hell-ness that comes with raising The Most Complex Child on the Planet™, and could really use an easier adolescence. Quit laughing.
But being a flute teacher, I have a lot of young girls in my studio. Over the years I’ve taught girls as young as five (never again) up through high school, with the majority of them middle school age. The stories I’ve heard, the dramas and traumas I’ve seen, the pain and awkwardness and angst and hell of middle school…it’s more than most parents realize, I think. I believe every kid needs at least one non-parent adult in his/her life, and I’ve been that adult for many kids for a long time. A non-judgmental sounding board, if you will. One of my favorite flute students just graduated from college (see also: I’m old); I started her on the instrument when she was seven (see related: get off my lawn). There was a time in her middle school years when there was very little flute playing and a whole lot of listening and helping her cope with middle school. She’ll be a band director this fall. I’m proud of her.
She had an inner resiliency that got her through those middle school years, but so many girls don’t. I learned this morning that girls at a local middle school, sixth graders no less (my son’s age…sigh), are cutting themselves. The pressure they feel in all areas of their lives is overwhelming them. I know we live in a high-expectation area, but I had no idea it was that bad. We’ve probably escaped that knowledge by the fact that our sixth grade son is homeschooled and isn’t exposed to the drama/trauma of middle school, and I’m grateful for that. I’m really appreciating our little ignorant bubble right now.
I don’t know how to build resiliency in kids, I just know how to listen and support and refuse the lie of “I can’t.” My heart breaks for these girls and their confused and terrified parents. I recommended Christine’s new book The Girl Guide to the women I spoke to this morning, and hope that helps. I don’t remember middle school (and even elementary school…learned about 3rd grade girls bullying this morning too!) being this intense and frightening.
Anyone else feel like this parenting gig just keeps getting harder and harder?