In case you are facing this stage of your life with kids, or are in the weeds already, read on.
1. You actually remember what this period of your own childhood was like. You remember the name of your seventh grade teacher, your first crush, that terrible haircut, and your favorite outfit. You have fond memories, but you can also remember how cruel and tough these years can be. You can relate. And you know that it gets immensely better.
2. You can relax a bit on your appearance. Middle-school moms are not trying as hard as elementary moms to impress one another. There are more yoga pants and fewer skinny jeans at the PTO meetings. My theory is the girl moms are exhausted by the wardrobe drama they dealing with day in and day out with their daughters, so caring what they put on their own body—well, they are just over it. And us boy moms happily come along for the ride.
3. You have an even greater respect for teachers. These folks are a special breed of awesome. Pre-teens are moody, weird, and loud. And their sense of humor is not fully developed, so they are constantly trying to be funny and failing—miserably. Spending all day five days a week with a whole classroom of these strange creatures sounds completely terrifying. Kudos to you.
4. You can no longer keep up with 80% of what they are studying in school I swear college-level math is now introduced in sixth grade. My twelfth grade AP Biology class is taught in eighth. You will try to help and fail. You will pull out your hair trying to understand their math homework. You will find yourself watching Khan Academy videos after they go to bed to prep for tomorrow’s lesson and the next round of homework.
5. You will accept your inadequacy, stop helping with homework, pour yourself a glass of wine, and read a book. See #4.
6. You can finally turn off Disney XD and start watching some decent TV together. Who doesn’t like to wind down their day with a good veg out session on the couch? Now you can actually enjoy watching something together. We burned through 100 episodes of Psych on Netflix. A friend and her son are watching NCIS like their lives depend on it. I’ll even take a couple episodes of Fuller House over iCarly. This is glorious stuff.
7. You now have an in-house IT department. They are learning tons about technology in school (and through trial and error on their personal devices). Battery on your iPhone keeps dying? Talk to a 13 year old. They can show you all the tricks to extend your battery life (dimming your screen brightness, closing background apps, charging in airplane mode, the list goes on….these guys do not want a dead phone on their hands). Likewise, I was elated when I walked by to see my son completing a Powerpoint presentation for homework (on my way to kitchen for snack, not helping with homework mind you). Sweet. I had no idea how to do that!
8. You see the writing on the wall. The physical difference between a 10 year old and a 13 year old will blow you away. You start to see glimmers of the man/woman they will become. And that means their time under your roof is running out. While heartbreaking, it’s just the way things are meant to be. So enjoy it….enjoy it while you can.
Edtor’s Note: This author has elected to publish her piece anonymously. If you wonder why, it is because you don’t have a teenager.