Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Middle School

Abie's off to middle school tomorrow. After 5 years in a really small elementary school, he's moving on to the largest public middle school in Berkeley.

Three hundred 6th graders. Ten 6th grade classrooms.

Back in March when we were in the midst of the big school decision I wasn't so sure this school was the right fit. I thought it was too big and way too hectic. Even the kids were huge. I was worried about the large classes, the standards pushing and the lack of art and music. When I observed lunch recess it seemed to me that the kids were all voluntarily divided by racial background and that really bothered me.

But, when Abe observed recess he said "Mom, I like that its big. I like that there are lots of different groups of kids. It looks like there are lots of ways to be cool here and that makes me feel comfortable."

I liked his viewpoint. I loved that he was so observant and knew what he needed for this next step.

That was months ago and the stress of the decision has long since passed. The more I hear about this school the better it sounds. Terrific programs, awesome teachers, great kids. I am thrilled that he can walk or bike there, and that he knows kids from baseball and from around town who are going. It's the home of the famous Alice Waters' Edible Schoolyard. Abe's read up about the garden, tried some of the recipes, and can't wait to work in that gorgeous school kitchen. We also just found out he can play his electric guitar in the 6th grade band.

It all sounds great....except I feel like we're sending him off to college. Between before-school band, and after-school sports, I feel like I'll hardly ever see him again. Plus with a nearly 9 year old quirky brother that still naps and a little sister who could be Dennis the Menace's twin, I doubt he'll be begging to bring kids home. So, these last few days, I keep filling him up with advice just in case he really doesn't come home again. Strangely, he seems to be listening.

Things like, "So, Abe, if someone says hi, remember to smile and say hi back...If you mumble or don't look up, kids will think you don't want to be friends."


"Find your baseball friends and hang out with them. They'll probably be with other kids from their elementary schools, but don't let that stop you. I'm sure those kids are nice too."

I sound like an idiot. What do I know about the middle school social scene? I spent those years peering out from behind greasy bangs, trying to figure out what was so cool about Gloria Vanderbilt jeans. (It was the stitching, and at my school it had to be gold). My brand new Sears denim skirt did not cut it.

My nickname during those years? Scary Mary. Seriously.

Yea, I should probably keep my advice to myself. He's going to be just fine.


  1. He sounds cool, already. Eight grade was the peak of misery for me -- and I wore a pair of powder blue polyester gauchos that I made at a Singer sewing class at the mall. With argyle knee-socks and Buffalo sandals. Oh, and rose-colored glasses with rose-tinted lenses. You've inspired me to perhaps write a blog post about it...

  2. Oh, sending love and many blessings to you AND to him. How exciting and wonderful, to be able to go to a school that has such riches as an Alice Waters garden and kitchen! I'm looking forward to hearing much more about it.

  3. I know what you mean about feeling like they're off to college -- feels like they hardly need us anymore! I thought Eli was going to be all needy and anxious on the first day, but he was FINE.

    The way Abe feels about MLK's bigness sounds a lot like how I felt going to Cal. Except I don't think I ever aspired to actual coolness. : )