Crowds of kids gathered with their parents at the bus stop snapping photos of their elated children. Some even took video. I stood with my daughter giving a hug and kiss on her cheek. I did this as support, support she didn’t ask for. Why? Because today was the 1st Day of School, the first day in a new school district for her and I was worried.
I was very nervous, bordering on anxious… wondering if she had everything. I think I was more nervous this year than she was because I can actually remember Junior High (New York’s version of Middle School) and I remember starting Junior High not knowing anyone. I remembered the fear, the anxiety, the pure terror. You see, I didn’t go to my zoned Junior High where I would have had friends from my elementary school, I went to a ‘Gifted & Talented’ Junior High for my creative writing abilities. And although my daughter was starting a new school system as we moved in late spring to give her a better education, unlike myself, she already knew a few people.
I worried about my daughter. With every new thing she would panic over… What if I can’t open my locker? What if the kids make fun of me? What if I am late to class?… my worry grew. I only want her to be happy and to succeed.
As the days passed and the 1st Day approached, I repeatedly asked her questions:
“Do you remember how to open your locker? Tell me.”
“What bus do you take from school to the YMCA in the afternoon?”
And then I started to make blatant statements:
“Don’t forget you will need lunch.”
“You only need a pen or pencil the first day. Why are you bringing so much other stuff?!”
I think I was beginning to drive my daughter batty as she began to roll her eyes at me and sigh.
I just wanted her to be prepared. Middle School is not Elementary School. You are given more responsibilities in Middle School. You have to go to more than one classroom. You have a set time to get to each class. You have reports and projects.
And most important… you must figure out who you are sitting with at lunch!
This last item was what was making my daughter more anxious the last few days. She doesn’t want to hurt anyone. She was debating between her oldest and dearest friend (they have been friends since they were babies), our neighbor across the way and a friend from her former camp in the city we used to live in that relocated too. She questioned me repeatedly about this. I suggested her old camp friend as she would see her bestie on the bus and well, our neighbor lives right across the way from us.
A mass chaos of questions, things to purchase, items on a To-Do list and my brain was foggy (it has been for the last couple of months already). I couldn’t concentrate to get everything organized, I just couldn’t think. With that I became irritable. With the irritability, I grew more anxious and had several anxiety attacks. It felt like my brain was playing a hyper speed game of Atari’s Pong in my head. But I tried to keep my anxieties from my daughter. We didn’t need her GAD to start.
It was official. I was more nervous than my daughter.
As I stood at the bus stop this morning with her and the gaggle of other kids and parents, I internally told myself this is it. She is ready and if she forgot something, there is always tomorrow. Tell your Anxiety that she is fine. She will make friends. She will open her locker. She will find her classes. You know she is ready for this and so are you.
Then the bus showed up. I waved to my friend, the bus driver. I watched her get on and smiled. I walked away feeling calm and content and whispered, “Good luck my love.”