Minor Niner, Major Changes As High School Starts
Ah, High School - Such Fun?
First Day Of High School!
So my oldest daughter is about to be a minor niner.
While I do struggle with this realization on occasion - that I am somehow old enough to have a kid in high school while still feeling as though teacher's college for me was just a couple of years ago - I am actually pretty excited for her. Sure, it means that she's growing up faster than I care to acknowledge and that these next four years are going to fly by, but really, she needed the change from elementary school to high school, as so many of these kids do.
That doesn't mean she's embraced the challenges of starting high school with open arms. Generalized Anxiety Disorder hampers that excitement a little.
Don't get me wrong. I believe that she's a bit excited, particularly after making it through orientation, surviving the crush of a two to three hundred unfamiliar faces, and finding out that really, kids in high school don't bite you when they first meet you. I say this with my tongue very firmly planted in my cheek, but sometimes, particularly when you're already nervous and especially when you have anxiety, weird thoughts strike you at weird times.
However, to get her to orientation - not even the first day of school, yet - it has taken negotiation, watching her fiddle with her combination lock for days, and standing back while she went to work trying to organize her books and her backpack for her locker. It has taken multiple reassurances that she knows some of the kids that are there already, and introductions to both teachers and educational assistants so that the upcoming first day of school does not seem quite as daunting.
It's taken multiple discussions about what to expect, what areas to avoid, and strategies to undertake to learn how to manage the increased workload. It has also taken multiple reassurances that yes, she can handle high school.
It's also taken shopping for school supplies earlier than I might have otherwise done, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, for obvious reasons. For instance, there is a steady crush of people in our local WalMart who are perusing the shelves, trying to snag some last minute deals, if they can, on school supplies.
I can't take all the stress of the first day of school away for my girl - either of them, actually, though I'm talking about my oldest here as the change from elementary to high school tends to be one of the most significant in a child's life - but knowing what I know about her anxiety helps me prepare her a little more effectively than if I had just pushed her out the front door of our home and said, "The school's that way. Good luck."
High school introduces one of the most significant changes that any student will go through during what is one of the most complicated times of a child's life. I mean, we're trying to nurture these individuals so that they become thoughtful, productive members of society, and if you throw in the critical thinking that we're trying to foster in them, in addition to the work ethic and sense of personal responsibility, that's a lot going on. Throw some anxiety about change into the mix and it's like you've put Mentos into a Coke bottle and screwed the lid to the bottle on tight.
It would be wicked awesome to say that once kids get through high school orientation things will be awesome and your child or children will just take to high school like a duck to water. That's not always the case, though. There are people who flounder in high school and never really find that one place where they truly "fit." Some high schools have really diverse populations where individual identities are celebrated, but that doesn't always happen.
The truth is, the high school experience can be really great, but for some people, jumping into the experience looks more like dipping your toes in a little bit at a time. For some people, it's really hard to see a person doing that as getting involved in the high school experience. However, one person's nose dive into an experience may look like someone easing themselves into something.
Change is not easy to embrace, and for every kid out there whose stomach is currently doing flip flops because the thought of suddenly making their way to a class through a crush of students they don't really know, I want you to encourage them to keep breathing. Change is not easy, and high school can sometimes be the best of times and the worst of times all at once, to paraphrase Charles Dickens.
Hang in there, kids. Change is coming, and you guys can do this.