I think I skipped elementary school. Not mine—my daughter’s.
Yesterday I swear we were strapping on her Velcro gym shoes for kindergarten, but then this morning she chatted all the way to school about next year, sixth grade, her breakthrough to middle school.
“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun, Mom. In the morning we have history, science, English and math, then in the afternoon we get a whole class period for study hall—and electives! I want to do handbells. And I have to decorate my locker, Mom, I need a shelf, Mrs. Wilson said….”
I studied my daughter’s face as she sat next to me in the passenger seat, spilling out her 11-year-old hopes and dreams—when did she graduate to the passenger seat, anyway? Wasn’t she just in a booster?? She has grown lovely with her long red hair, tortoise shell glasses and early summer freckles. Still young but no longer my little girl.
She is leaving the elementary wing. She’s moving on.
She is ready.
As we venture into this new phase of childhood and parenting—middle school, heaven help me please—I am determined to be present. To grow along with my growing girl, to invest in our changing relationship. As she grows, so too should my approach to shepherding her heart.
No matter what age or stage your children are headed to next, let’s be intentional this summer about building an ever stronger connection with our kids. Here’s how I plan to do it.
Lay off of her. I do a lot of nagging around this house—pick up your socks, turn off the light, stop begging for Twizzlers. So much nagging, in fact, that my relationship with my firstborn has become defined by me telling her what to do—or what not to do. What fun is that? For either of us.
It’s time for me to cut her some slack so she can learn how to take responsibility without me yapping in her face. I need to be the role model, not the drill sergeant. Kids need space to make mistakes. No more micromanaging. She’s ready to discover natural consequences—and a kinder mother.
Do what she loves to do. I’m not crazy about tween TV. But my daughter asked me to watch Annedroids with her, so I did. She was over the moon about sharing it with me. She wants to tell me about the books she’s reading, the song she’s writing, the text her friend sent her last night. So I want to listen, to engage, to take part in what she enjoys. I mean seriously, the kid loves to go shopping and stop at Starbucks for cake pops and frappes. Twist my arm, right? When I enter into her world, not only will I learn more about her, but hopefully I’ll also gain increasing trust in her eyes, have a little fun, and seal my status as someone worth hanging out with. Lord let it be so.
Listen. Be present. Finally, it’s time for Mom to open her ears. For real. No more “Oh really? Uh-huh” half-responses to the kiddo’s chatter while I’m actually paying more attention to my iPhone or writing the grocery list in my head. Kids of all ages need their mom’s attention and support, but especially now—when friendship drama, self-image, puberty and all the yucky things a tween will face may start to consume her view of life. She needs a sounding board, someone who will love her through the junk and offer wisdom, encouragement, a safe place to cry and laugh and ask questions. I want to be that for her.
She is growing so fast.
Six years of elementary school just slipped through my fingers, and I want to grasp the moment now, while I have the chance.
This summer will be a transition of sorts, as it always is. And I pray that all of us moms with children whether of school age or not will lift our eyes to the hills, where our help comes from (Psalm 121). Let’s love our kids like Jesus loves. Full of acceptance, forgiveness, and grace.
Happy summer, everyone. I might be quieter on the blog these next few months while I’m soaking up the sun and family ice cream runs as much as possible. Fall will come soon enough. Let’s make the most of our time together while we can.
“This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)
Blessings and much generous love,
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