Wednesday, February 13, 2013

My Favorite Girl in the Whole World

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This girl surprises me every day.

She's nearly ten and sometimes I catch a glimpse of her in a certain light or with a particular look on her face and I think about how lucky I am and how terrified I am of how fast she's growing up.

She's quirky.  She loves mythology.  She adores Coldpl@y so much that she's chosen one of their songs as her piano recital piece this year.  Her dream is to travel to Europe to see Rome, Athens and London.  She doesn't follow the "in" crowd.  She can't stand Just!n B!eber, doesn't give a hoot about her school outfits or what her hair looks like and doesn't think twice about spending her money at a bookstore rather than on mani/pedis with her friends (yes, girls her age actually do this!).   She's probably the only one in her class who gets excited to watch D0wnton Abb@y with her mother on Friday evenings and I'm certain she's the only one who uses the show as a springboard when coming up with sentences using her vocabulary words: "It was Matthew's destiny to take over the running of the estate".

She starts middle school next year.  Middle school.  I remember middle school.  It was horrible:  changing classes, trying to remember a locker combination for the first time, getting "the talk" in the library with all of the other nervous and giggly girls.  Cliques began to form.  Alliances were made.  Gossip regarding the opposite sex dominated lunch time conversations.  My two best friends moved away the summer before middle school and it became Lord of the Flies in a school setting to those of us who didn't already have a core group of friends.

In our attempts to keep Syd protected from all of the nastiness for just a bit longer, Ryan and I toured and then enrolled her in our school district's GT (gifted and talented) middle school.  She finally passed their dumb test (after being just three points away last year) and earned the opportunity to attend this special school that (supposedly) lets the kids focus more on their interests and less on standardized testing.

It sounds perfect, right?  Well, it would be if any of her friends were going there, but none of them are so she'll be just like me and start middle school without her buddies.  The simple solution would have been to have her attend the GT program at her zoned school, but her friends wouldn't be in her classes there, either.  So it's a new school for my sweet girl.  I'm praying she has a better experience than I did.

I have no idea how to protect her from the inevitable heartbreaks that come with middle school friendships.  How do you explain to a ten year old that some people are just not worth their time when you've spent the previous decade insisting that they treat others like they would want to be treated?  I can remember learning this cruel lesson for myself at that age and for the life of me I cannot figure out how to spare her from the same.  Deep down, I know she  has to learn these things for herself.  It's part of growing up.  It sure does stink, though.

As for some of the other social aspects of middle school, I feel more prepared to help her.  I got this book for her and she has devoured it as if it were an instruction manual.  Sadly, she is Type A like me, so she's going to be in for a shock when she discovers that her experience is not going to be exactly like the one described in the book.  I see myself introducing her to classic Judy Blume books at that point.  And we've already had a couple of versions of "the talk" so she won't be shocked when the counselor pulls the girls together to discuss the change.  I already feel like she's way more prepared than I was, especially when my mother's version of "the talk" was, "Do you know what a pad is?  Good.  Let me know when you need me to buy some."  This is probably more of a talk than she got and it's certainly way more than her mother got at that age.  My grandmother once told me she went six months thinking she was dying from some terrible form of cancer until her older sister clued her in to what was going on.  My kid clearly has no idea how lucky she is.

Of course, middle school could be great for her.  She could make a boatload of friends, find a new bff and have no problems adjusting to the changes she facing.  I really hope she does have a great time and I'll do my best to help her any way that I can.  However, I think I'll stock up on some boxes of tissues just in case; even if she doesn't need them, I have a feeling I will.