And They’re Off

There are so many thoughts and emotions running wild in my head right now that I really don’t even know where to start this post.  So, let’s go with something safe… our traditional first day of school breakfast!

Since John’s first day of Kindergarten, we’ve started the first day of school with pancakes. This year Krusteaz sent us a few boxes of their new protein pancake mix to try so we saved it for the first day!  Krusteaz is our favorite boxed mix by FAR and I was excited to see that they now have a protein version.  They boys didn’t say a word about it tasting different so I didn’t even mention that it was.

Every year Honey uses the pancake pen to make them each a pancake with the number of the grade they are starting.  Why?  I don’t know.  It’s just what we do.  :-)  We used to also spell out their names, but they are way too ravenous for that these days.

Whit’s bus comes around 7:10-7:15 and John doesn’t have to leave for middle school until 8:45.  Since we have different start times I didn’t even set a cute table.  Each kid ate on their own at the bar.  boo hoo hoo

It felt so odd to be doing all of this with just the little guy.  Sending him off was just fine – he is excited about his teacher, was so happy to see all the kids at the bus stop, and thrilled to get back in the routine of shooting hoops at 7AM.  :-)

John was up early, shortly after Whit left, and already ready for his first day of sixth grade.  Gulp.  See, this is why I didn’t know how to start this post.  We are staring a new chapter this year.  Middle school.  MIDDLE SCHOOL.  That strange and awkward place where 6th graders look like young boys and 8th graders look like men.  Where the rules from one family to the next can be as different as night and day.  Where parents aren’t really welcome and have no idea what goes on during the day.  Where they go outside once a week for about 20 minutes, if they earn it.  Where only a very, very small portion of his elementary school attends and where he really knows just a few kids.  Yeah, that’s the place I’m sending my first born.

For the record, he is absolutely fine with it.  Excited even!!  Which is amazing!!!!!  But I’m just dying inside because I remember middle school well.  It’s not like my three years there were traumatic or even bad, thankfully, but I saw things and learned things and had my feelings hurt and was excluded from some things and didn’t understand other things.  I thought my parents hated me at times (no you can’t shave your legs, no you can’t wear makeup, no, no, no, no, no… ) and felt pressure to perform well in school and ballet and life in general (that pressure didn’t come from my parents, by the way, it was all me) ALL the time.  I had braces and bangs and a perm and overall looked like a train wreck.  I guess I’m just not ready for him to have to grow up in these ways, yet I’m so incredibly grateful that he CAN grow up healthy and loved and that I get be his mom through it all.

Another thing that’s been heavily weighing on my mind about middle school is his privacy.  Outside of some family trips and their summer fun video series (which was all their idea and is FINE with me), John hasn’t had much of a presence here or on my Instagram at all.  I struggle with that because I know that many of you came to know and love Dixie Delights through my boys and my adventures in being their mom.  Y’all have loved him and cheered for him and supported him since he was a newly minted 5 year old, which is just mind boggling.  But he has school mates on social media now (he is not), and parents of school mates on social media, and I would never, ever want something here to be used against him in any way.

I’m sharing this to say that, at forty-something years old, I too am going through some middle school growing pains.  I know I won’t do it perfectly and I’m sure I will slip up, but I’m working hard to find a happy medium between continuing to share my life as a mom, wife, crafter, decorator, Disney-lover, etc. and doing that in a safe and respectful manner for my son.  I’m SO proud of him that my first reaction is to share every detail of his life – shouting his successes from the rooftop and seeking guidance on his struggles from those that are a little ahead of me.  But I know that it is time to temper all of that with the reality that his generation is growing up on social media, with astonishingly large groups of them on text chains, Snapchat, Instagram, House Party (omg!), and the internet, and the last thing he needs in learning how to navigate all of this at eleven years old is his blogger mom fueling a fire.

He doesn’t make decisions for me, but I’m hoping he can with me.  He isn’t at all disappearing from here, but when he is here I hope it is in a thoughtful, agreeable manner.  And so, while he did happily pose with his first day of 6th grade sign with his clean hair cut and new Vineyard Vines lacrosse tee (be still my heart… have we outgrown athleisure wear 24/7?), I made the hard decision not to share it.  Gulp.

On another note, I was making myself sick worrying about how I was going to manage being at Coke a few days a week for work by 8AM (which means leaving my house at 7:15) when John didn’t start school until 9:10AM.  When I lost my job there it felt like a huge weight had been lifted in that respect.  The beautiful thing about my new travel agent gig is that it is 100% from home!!!!  So, guess who is a carpool mom now?  This chick.  :-)

I pray that my boys continue to love school, that they model kindness, grace and manners every day, that their teachers are loving, compassionate and engaging, that they find at least one good friend in their class, and that this is the best year yet!

Happy Tuesday, y’all!!!  Whew!

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24 thoughts on “And They’re Off

  1. I have been teaching middle school for eighteen years. It is truly a rapidly changing time, so buckle up. It’s literally “the wildest ride in the wilderness.” If his middle school offers any parent “social media/technology” nights, I encourage you to go. Many parents are soooo uninformed of what they’re children are doing because they’re under the same roof, so what can happen? My girls are in high school, and I found that SLOWLY allowing some social media worked well for us. I had my daughter’s Instagram on my phone. You can still have yours and his, just put them on two devices. That way you can see and approve everything. It’s definitely a juggling act. Proceed with caution and lots of conversation and you’ll be fine!

  2. It is definitely a new world, navigating middle school. And I suppose I had a rather easy go since we homeschool… but those growing pains were still there, for both of us! And now, we’re navigating high school!

    I think your approach is perfect. I ask before I share, and I definitely don’t share anything that’s personal about him. This was hard for sure! He’s on Instagram but none of the others… and we don’t allow group texts (unless it’s for a specific event). Being aware of what’s going on is one of the hardest parts. We have to do that in ways our parents didn’t. Trusting your heart and God’s guidance, and John’s guidance, too will keep you where you need to be.

    Hope this is the best year yet, for both of your boys! xoxo

  3. Agh.. my kids are going into 3rd and 6th this year, too. I am trying not to think about it, but they start on Wednesday. Thanks for making me not feel alone, I have had all the same thoughts as you!

    Carrie
    curlycraftymom.com

  4. I so respect your decision and think you are wise to listen to your heart about not fueling the fire. While your readers are kind and loving folks, occasionally a snarky comment can seep through….better to avoid it all together and keep your family safe and secure.

    On a happy note, that is my very favorite pic of your youngest…the true joy in his smile just made my day! Nothing like a little “kiss” from your BFF to start your school year off right!

  5. It is a hard time to let that first one go off to middle school. I taught elementary when my oldest one started. It was the first time she wouldn’t have me:( She did fine, but yes, she did learn lots that you would love to shelter them from. You just have to do lots of praying, be supportive, and saying no when it is hard. They know you are there, even when they act like it is the worst thing in the world to be seen with you. I was just like you with my kids, and I have to tell you the first time my son couldn’t get out of the car quick enough and no “good-bye Mom” was hard, or the time my daughter didn’t say “I love you”, but got out of the car mad at me. I had the most miserable day ever. She arrived home from school with no remembrance of the morning and began telling me about a boy who had paid attention to her.
    As a former middle school teacher, I always say getting through the middle school years are the hardest. They will come out on the other side of those awkward years.

  6. I have girls, so it’s a little different dynamic, but after three years of my older daughter in middle school, I can honestly say it felt a bit like a marathon. Not terrible by any means, but now that it’s over (at least for her – my younger one started 6th this year, too!), I can tell how exhausting it was. It’s a time of so much growth- physical AND emotional, that it can feel like a lot. At the same time, though, it is SO AWESOME to see your child grow and learn and really come into their own. My older daughter keeps up with current events, can carry on educated conversations, and really brings a whole new dynamic to the family. It’s a GREAT age, even with all the FEEEEEEEEELINGS that start to come into play. ;) I loved, loved, LOVED having littles, but dare I say the teen years are my favorite so far?!

  7. You are a smart, smart mom! And while I’m sad we won’t be seeing as much of your sweet boys, I believe it’s the right choice. As a mom of one grown-up daughter and two older teens, these years are tricky. I teach high school, too, so I see this from both sides. Middle school is hard, and you both will probably have your hearts broken, at least a time or two. Just remember this is preparing him for life, which gets better in some ways and harder in others. The social media thing with kids is so-so-so difficult. You have inspired many of us moms here with your boundless enthusiasm and celebration of motherhood. That energy is why I come here nearly every day. Good luck to all of you! 💕

  8. Oh my. I too struggle with everything you said…..and I’m a middle school teacher with 20 years worth of teaching in my pocket!!! Middle school can be an intimidating place but time and time again I have seen my students grow and mature and begin to find themselves. They are then excited and ready for high school, which is a totally new adventure. Middle school can be hard, but as long as John knows you have his back and there is unconditional love at home (which there is!) he will pull through with flying colors! I wish you all the happiest of school years full of fun and grand experiences!!!!

  9. you’re such an amazing mom, a. wishing the boys all the best this new school year. they’re going to rock it, and so are YOU! xo

  10. I love you school traditions. All the family ties will see all you through the middle school years. I’m a retired 8th grade math teacher and middle school will be an adventure for all of you. Participate in all that you can.

  11. I feel like our kids have grown up together because they’re the same ages and I’ve read your blog for soooo long!!! Know that you’re not alone in what you’re going through because I’m right there with you. Can’t we just move to Disney and live in the castle or something?!?!?

  12. I agree with everything that’s been shared thus far. Middle school brings a lot of change, some we’d prefer not to have. You two are wonderful parents! It’s heartbreaking to see kids that do not have a loving home environment and parents that care. I agree with the decision for privacy and the boys will appreciate that! Keep the communication lines open…I would say that’s #1. As long as they feel they can come to you with anything and that it will remain private is so important. The social media situation must be such a challenge for parents these days…all we had to do was monitor what was watched on TV! :)

    Hoping they find good friends, perhaps from their Church, and that God blesses you with peace and understanding.

    xo
    Pat

  13. Amanda, I love your honesty and raw feelings here. I’m safe in the elementary zone for a few more years but I think ahead to middle school and am quite terrified. Saying a prayer for you as you navigate through this. Something tells me John – and you – will do wonderfully. :)

  14. You’ll learn a lot from driving carpool. Be quiet and listen. At times, you will want to state your opinion, but try not to. The kids will open up more around you if they feel as if they are not being judged. If you ever have to step in, you’ll know.

    1. Yes, yes. I’m in a unique position in our group as I am the study hall proctor for this kids and get a different mix every period. I learn SO much by both being a safe place and fun to talk to (if I do say so myself) and by being an observer.

  15. Applaud your decision to protect your son by limiting his presence online. So smart and thoughtful. I wish more bloggers would reflect on the online presence they create for their children. You’re a good mama :)

  16. Hey Amanda, love your blog. How do you handle homework? Do y’all have down time after school or do y’all dive right in? My daughter started 5th grade this morning. Thanks for your input.

  17. Great post!

    My oldest son is going into 5th grade. This (as well as many of your posts) resonate with me.

    Think it is a good call to keep the this n that of a middle schooler off a public arena. I used to listen to Manic Mommies podcast but when their kids got to be in middle school they hung up their hats.
    Who needs some kid mis-using fun news shared on your well intentioned blog.

    Love that clothing has come full circle.
    From monogrammed seersucker bubble, past the nylon sporty stuff and retuning to his prep roots. I’d love that to happen to my guys.

    I cannot get over belltime difference. We start at 9:25! Yuk

  18. Yours is one of the few blogs I still follow. You and your husband are wonderful, devoted parents and I think this transition will go very smoothly. My 2 cents, I would keep pictures of John and eventually Whit off of your social media/blog. Your readers will certainly understand. Whatever you end up doing will be the right thing.

  19. You’re doing the right thing, Amanda and setting a good example. This is such a pivotal stage and I know how torn you must be to watch John spread his wings and fly. He will soar, my friend. I will miss seeing him and have noticed your content changing but at least I have time to wean myself off of watching Whit! ;-) He is precious. May God bless your sweet family with a successful school year, full of wondrous adventures. Please give my best to Sister’s too. XOXO

  20. Middle school years are tough, for many reasons. First, know the strong foundation and close relationship you have will get you through them. Sometimes questions will need to be asked differently. I am not a fan of questions they can only answer with a single word ;-) Feelings will get hurt, his and yours, but it is part of the growing process. Just pray and love them through it. As far as cell phones and social media (thank goodness those came along when mine were a bit older)…set boundaries early on. He may not have them, but his friends do, so talk about it. With social media, the rule for us was I had their passwords until they left for college. We had a plan through our cell company that allowed us to place restrictions on who could call, who they could call, and times. Our numbers and emergency numbers were always accessible. Best thing we ever did.

  21. I am certain you will never regret choosing to give him privacy! You are modeling how to use social media thoughtfully and intentionally; that is a great lesson even for most adults! You will quickly learn to treasure the car pool moments as they provide an inside view of the boys and their conversations. I have learned that my teenagers are most likely to be chatty immediately after school—by the time we arrive home they clam up! Its so great that your job situation worked itself out to allow you more time at home. I think the tween/teen years are when they need us most. Here’s to a great school year!

  22. Your blog is always spot on and this is just another example of why I admire you as a mom! Other bloggers would do well to pause and reflect as you have. This time of ever changing media is new to all of us, and good on you for limiting your son’s presence here.

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