About a year ago I was looking at schools in our town since we get to rank our first three choices. As I went from school to school I observed classes with kids ranging from about 4 to 12 years old. I remember seeing kids in second or third grade working independently on projects or quietly reading a book on their own and wondering if that would ever be my kid. It's hard to imagine my kids being so independent and (relatively) mature when they were wild three year olds.
My boys went on their first after school field trip this week. After their six hour school day they walked about a half mile, in the rain, with about 40 other kids to a bowling alley to play 10 pin bowling. I met them at 5pm and we stayed to eat some dinner with some other families. During the day I worried how their little bodies would cope with the extra long and stimulating day. When I got to the bowling alley 8 hours after school started they were bowling and having fun and smiling. They were doing OK figuring out this crazy world we live in.
This week I also volunteered at the book fair at my kids' school. The hour that I worked in the library was the same hour that the middle school kids (I'm guessing 7th graders?) came to the book fair. I watched the boys and girls look at all of the books and count their money trying to figure out what they could buy. More importantly, though, I saw how they were interacting with each other. There was a group of gossipy girls talking about how they heard someone was busted for stealing books from the fair. There were some boys roughhousing with each other in the corner who needed to be reprimanded by the librarian. There was the kid who bought some sci-fi books and seemed to be mostly by himself. All the stereotypical teens seemed to be represented. Of course my imagination started to run wild with who my kids will be in about 10 years and how they will navigate their way through school. Will they be the nerds? Will they be popular? Will they be kind? Will they cause trouble?
Today I worked at a hospital and in the waiting room a TV talk show told a story of four high school students who witnessed a car accident, helped take care of an autistic child who was in the accident and even slipped $40 into the single mother's bag to help pay for the groceries she lost in the accident when she refused to take their money. Knowing there are kids like that in this world give me some hope.
So will my kids be the ones who tackle new experiences or sit back in the corner? Will they be leaders or followers? Will they be the popular kid who is kind enough to include the outcast or will they be the outcast who gets picked on? Who knows. I wish I had a way to see into the future to see what will happen. I'm not very good at waiting. I like to know what's going to happen so I can plan for it..and then have a back-up plan...and maybe another plan or two for just in case. But all I can do is wait and see what life gives my kids and help them through it the best way I know how.
Parenting is so freakin' hard!