The hubs and I have been splitting up a lot lately. Not permanently. More like a “divide and conquer” situation. I am so thankful for his stay/work at home abilities because 90% of the time he is doing something for the kids. Lunch. School. Dance and Tae Kwon Do chauffeuring.
This week I was in town at an appointment at the same time the fam was in town. (Town is 45 minutes from home, for perspective.) He’d just picked up LM from dance and was on the way to pick up LH.
“Can you pick LH up from karate?”
“LH? You mean the child sitting in the passenger seat?”
I was all over this. Divide and conquer. He was stuck in traffic, and I was right in the same neighborhood to pick LH up after class, so before he could even ask I was there to surprise LH. The four of us met up, ate chicken fingers and then swapped kids for the ride home. Not because they don’t like to ride home with any particular parent. It’s just that the boys have their boy time to talk boy “stuff” and the girls have our time to talk about how horrible middle school can be, and play the same Disney track on the cd player 15 BAZILLION times.
This is how it starts.
The talks we have.
How the kids at school call her ugly, which I counter with how she was beautifully and wonderfully made. And how her best friend broke up with her, which I counter with shock and awe.
“It’s not working out for us to be friends. We need to break up.”
Say wha? When did “breaking up” with friends become a “thing?”
“Mama, Sarah is having a birthday party on Saturday.”
I am bracing myself. Waiting for the other shoe to drop. Hoping. Listening.
“Oh? Tell me about it.”
“Well, it’s Saturday. And I heard her tell Molly that not everyone will get an invitation. She hasn’t decided who yet.”
We talk… well, she talks. I mostly listen. We talk about how she might not get an invitation, because not everyone will, and how she’ll react to that. And then she launches into an entire scene that is half amazing, half heartbreaking, where she has mentally braced herself for the rejection bestowed upon her by the chosen ones. This scene in her head where everyone else gets an invitation except her. Part of me is proud of her because she has the right answers. Stand up. Be proud. Shake it off.
She is Sue Heck. I know, because I was Sue Heck once too.
Part of me wants to take her right out of middle school and shelter from this nonsense.
Part of me wants to march right up to the school and ask these parents what is the matter with them. (Because it comes from the parents. You’ll have to trust me on this.)
And part of me just listens and coaches her through this season of life. Coaches encourage. They’ve played the game before. They know what not to do because they’ve probably made those same mistakes back when they were a player. I know I’ll get some flack for this. (Be a parent, not a coach, yada yada.) But I tell her the things I wish I had known at her age. The things I wish someone had told me so that she can make it out of this game not just alive but with a smile on her face.
Hear me. Sometimes you need to be the parent, and sometimes, you need to be the coach. To be a coach… at least in this season… that just means there is less telling her what to do, more time guiding her to what Jesus would want her to do, and letting her take all that we have equipped her with thus far to do those things. Not all the time, mind you. Just a little bit here and there.
That means we have judgment-free moments when the kids come home from school. (I prefer to reserve my judgment for those moments when they should be doing chores/brushing teeth/going to bed and are instead not doing any of those things.)
Moments where they come home and talk about all the drama of the day, and feel free to unload whatever – good or bad – is on their mind. Sometimes this happens on the couch. Sometimes over the stove. Sometimes over cookies. Sometimes while in line at the Subway because home cooking just is not happening. It means we follow up with biblical examples of how to react to things, and how to love others, and how to look for people who are looking for friends just like she is, how to see through pretenses and how to go it alone when you really just want to follow the crowd.
It means letting them go just a tiny bit so they can step off the sidelines and jump into life, coming out a little wiser, a whole lot kinder, and a whole lot more like Jesus than we were at their age.
Don’t worry, I have MY life coach right beside me to guide me along this new tween/preteen path. Hopefully, I’ll make it out with a smile too.
Cheering for you,