“I can’t believe summer is officially over tomorrow.” My daughter said with disbelief this morning. Somehow, those 7 words made my stomach turn 10 different ways. It’s officially here- the first day of middle school and a right of passage into young adulthood.
Behind all of the summer barbecues, beach umbrellas, cannon balls into the pool and basketball games till sunset my daughter has enjoyed this summer, I’ve been painstakingly waiting for tomorrow – her first day of middle school. Most parental units are happy at such an occasion but why am I being melodramatic? I ask myself this with guilt. I am excited for her because I know she will learn new things and make new friends but for most of the summer I laid awake at night trying to figure out why I’m not as excited as I should be and then it hit me. Oh my goodness.
I was bullied from beginning to end of middle school. I was awkward and sad. I cried almost every morning before I went to school. I spent time finding short cuts and back ways trying to avoid certain hallways the “cool girls” walked down between classes. Those feelings of fear and anxiety are still embedded into the back of my mind and subconsciously torturing me because my daughter is now heading into the world I didn’t feel like I belonged in.
My daughter isn’t shy like I was, in fact, she’s pretty outspoken. I admire her because she has traits I would have loved to have when I was 12 and even though I know she’s going to be just fine I’ll give her some tips anyway.
1. Learn and understand what bullying means.
2. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind.
3. Don’t be afraid to make a friend. All you really need is one.
4. Should you feel uncomfortable by someone’s actions or words, speak to a counselor or to me. I’m always here to help you.
5. People won’t always agree with you or vise versa and that’s okay.
6. Take advantage of after school clubs, you never know what you’ll learn or who you will meet.
7. Support one another. Be respectful to one another. Embrace the things that make you unique and different.
8. If you notice that someone is being bullied, speak to a counselor. Speaking up about bullying isn’t tattling.
9. Don’t get caught up in any gossip. Rumors can hurt a person’s life and reputation and most of the time rumors are not factual.
10. Be yourself.
As I share these tips with my not so little girl, I reassure myself that everything will be just fine. May her middle school years be filled with a great education, amazing friendships and even better memories she can share with her children one day.
Good luck to all of our kids!