My son graduated from 8th grade last week and it was a big deal. Not gonna lie. I cried. Sigh.
Marking the transition from kidville to high school-land is important. Once he gets to high school, it’s like a cannon being shot and life with him will no longer consist of long days and short years. Life shoots forward at a speed you never thought possible. I’ve seen it with my older daughter. My boy will grow physically (how can he get taller?) socially and emotionally.
I have so many things to say before he walks through those doors in August. Most of what I want to say, I’ve said his whole life. We’ve laid the foundation with lessons of kindness, respect, tolerance and perseverance. Now we need to build on these lessons for the new world of high school. The summer conversation, while filled with social planning, driver’s ed and all around tom-foolery also consists of the following:
1. You will have teachers you don’t like, classmates you don’t like and classes you don’t like. Deal with it. How you handle these situations will make all the difference in making your high school experience a bad one, a good one or a great one. Advocate for yourself. Talk to me, talk to Dad, talk to your sister, talk to your counselors, talk to the teachers. Talk to someone to help you sort through how best to handle the obstacles.
2. Choose your friends oh so wisely. You have lifelong friendships. I love these boys and girls. You love them too. Some may stay, some may stray. You are all growing – sometimes we grow together and sometimes apart. This can be so hard and so scary and so uncertain. Stay true to who you are. Surround yourself with friends who lift you up, who root for your rising, who have your back. Do the same for the friends you want to keep. Listen, laugh and always lift them up! Great kids make bad choices. Remember tolerance. Make your own choices.
3. Sometimes you will make bad choices. I will still love you. You may have consequences that aren’t pleasant. I will still love you. As a teenager, your sweet smart brain isn’t fully developed. It won’t be for some time. The part that controls your impulses? Yeah, that’s not always going to help you make good choices right away. This is why I repeat myself when you leave the house. This is why I always tell you to respect yourself and respect others. I hope that when your brain is not sure of what to do, you will hear my voice whispering behind you.
4. Be open to staying quiet. Take a pause, be quiet. That’s right. I know we have always told you to speak up, to voice your opinion, to stand up for your beliefs. Continue to do so. In high school you will find yourself meeting more people with varied opinions. You will hear and see things from classmates and teammates and teachers. You don’t always have to voice your opinion. You don’t always have to be the town cryer and tell everyone what’s going on. Sometimes it’s best to take a pause and be quiet. After the pause, you may decide you need to speak up. After the pause, you may decide keeping quiet is a better option. Be open. Learn this.
5. Continue to respect women. You will hear so much talk in the locker room. You will hear all the details about other people’s hook-ups. You will hear things said about girls, their bodies, their looks, how far they’ll go if you let them. Be respectful. Don’t participate in these conversations. Lead by example. Don’t let gossip spread. If you can’t stop the stories, don’t carry the stories. Treat the girls you are with, with kindness, honesty, humor and privacy. What is said or done between you and a girl is between the two of you. Only.
6. Have so much fun. SO much fun. Sometimes this will be a challenge. Classes are tougher. Sports are more competitive. Grades actually matter and everyone is always talking about college. Always. If you do what ought to be done – if you study, go for extra help when you need it and put in the time, your grades will reflect that. Keep deadlines and work smart. Practice hard, play harder. Have fun.
You will succeed at whatever you do if you give it your all. You will fail sometimes. This I know for sure. It’s ok. It’s important to fail, to learn to get up. To learn from your failures. But dear boy, have fun. There is time for all of this, even if it doesn’t seem like it. Go to parties, laugh a lot, play pranks, go to the games, go on dates. Enjoy your time on the field, your time on the court, your time at home, your time alone. Enjoy. Enjoy. Enjoy.
These conversations will be weaved into dinners, car rides and Dairy Queen runs while Jay Z raps in the background. Sometimes they will be one-sided, sometimes he may even listen to me. I must start the conversations regardless, knowing the cannon will be shot soon, and the time to talk is slowly but surely dwindling. I can’t wait to talk with him. I can’t wait to listen. I love watching him grow.
Do you have an incoming high school freshman in your house? How do you keep the conversations going? Let me know in the comments below. Never ever miss a Neen post. You can follow me on Facebook or type your email address in the box and click the “create subscription” button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.