Journaling for a scrapbook page to be created some day in the future
This is a smile I love to see.
I wish we could see it more often.
It’s not that you are an unhappy child or that you are frequently grumpy.
You are not.
It’s just that fewer things in life seem to bring this kind of joy out of you the older you get. At 10 (almost 11) years old, you’re past the bubbly baby, talkative toddler and passionate preschooler ages. You’re no longer in elementary school, when school seemed (at least to a student) to be more about social skills than studying. (That photo above? That was taken in May 2012, during your last week of elementary school, fourth grade, on field day.)
Suddenly, you’re in fifth grade – in our town, a middle-schooler – and the stresses of everyday life are becoming all too real.
Middle school is a hard time for everyone, I think. Some girls are starting to notice boys. Some boys are starting to notice girls. Kids are becoming more judgmental of one another. Cliques begin. Gossip becomes frequent. Feelings become real.
In the last year, we’ve moved, and our new neighborhood isn’t chock full of boys who are knocking on the door asking you to play – as they were at our old house. You don’t play outside as easily or as often as you used to, and we aren’t good about inviting friends over to hang out with you.
The friends with whom you once bounced from sport to sport (baseball in spring and summer, soccer in fall, basketball in winter) are more frequently picking a single sport on which to focus. This means you no longer see them outside of school several times a week, all year long. They’re working on sport-specific skills all year, growing stronger and more competitive, meaning you’re no longer always one of the best players on the team. (And that’s more than OK; it’s good for you, in fact. But it’s definitely a change from what you’ve known so far in life.)
This year, you’re in a new school building, with new teachers who have widely varying expectations of you. You’ve been thrust into the middle of what our school system has dubbed “the pilot program,” the all-out, no-holds-barred implementation of mass customized learning, a brand-new way of learning, of teaching students, of spending your allotted math time at school, of focusing, of studying, of being accountable for your own work pace, of setting your own homework schedule.
That’s a lot of change. And it’s a lot to ask of a 10-year-old, especially one with a gentle heart and sensitive spirit, like you. We know that. We understand that. And we expect it to affect your energy level, your motivation – your smile.
But, Gabe, you’re doing great.
You’re well behaved.
You’re rolling with the punches.
You’re making new friends.
You’re learning to focus.
You’re learning to work hard.
You’re coming into your own.
You’re becoming a glimpse of the man you will become.
And I’m really proud of you.