Hold my breath and pray that good things happen. That’s been my mindset as I’ve watched my older daughter get her first taste of public school as a sixth grader at Foothills Middle School.
My daughter attended St. Joseph School in Wenatchee from preschool through fifth grade. And it was a good experience for her and our family. She felt comfortable at St. Joe’s. She liked her teachers and her classmates, and she did well academically and socially.
I’ll admit there was some anxiety as the new school year approached. My wife and I know there are more opportunities for academics, sports and other extracurricular activities at Foothills. We also know it is very different from St. Joe’s socially. For one, it’s a much larger school. And two, well, it’s middle school. My little girl is no longer such a little girl.
I visited the school with her on orientation day, where she learned how to open her assigned locker and she became more familiar with the school. She was assigned a top locker, which means she has to stand on her tiptoes to open it. She complained briefly — there’s been a lot of complaining from her in the past year — about that, but stopped after she had mastered the lock combination.
There was some trepidation on my part that first day when she walked across the street to hitch a ride to school with the neighbor girl and her grandmother. Would she come home in a bad mood? Would her mostly positive attitude about school take a turn for the worse?
At the end of my work day, I walked into the house from our garage not knowing which version of my daughter I would encounter on the other side of the door. To my relief, she was happy … and excited. It had been a while since I had seen her excited about school, so it was good to see that spark back in her eye again while she chatted about her classes and teachers over dinner that evening.
Her school day begins at 6:30 a.m. with volleyball practice and ends at 5 p.m. after tennis practice. Aside from some light griping about a stiff shoulder and a sore body, she’s been aces. She has yet to complain when I wake her up at 5:45 so she can get to practice. She’s motivated to get to practice on time.
Nearly two weeks into the school year, she’s still excited about school and her teachers. I visited the school last week during her lunch break and she had a smile on her face as she came out of the music room and headed upstairs to drop her stuff off at her locker and grab her lunch bag. Seeing that left me with a very content feeling as a parent. My girl is growing up.
I don’t know how long this excited-happy phase will last for my middle schooler. I know something will come up that will wipe the smile off her face, but I’m going to enjoy these smooth waters for as long as they last. We’ll deal with the choppy waters when we get to them.