Wednesday, September 18, 2013

First Grade, Sixth Grade - Deja Vu

When Brailey was in first grade, she would cry every day that I dropped her off in her classroom. And I would cry, too. And now, here she is in middle school, a mature sixth grade beauty, and as she leaves the car, calling, "I love you," I find myself choking back the tears again. Every single day. I know - can you believe it?!

Middle school has not been the happy transition for Brailey that is has been for most of her friends. Granted, we are only in our second week of the school year, but it has been a rougher start than I anticipated. Rewind to before school started, during Sixth Grade Orientation...

I believe I mentioned that Brailey's very dearest friend, Carrie, called her shortly before the Western States Stock Horse show and broke the news to her that she was moving and going to a different school. It was the saddest phone conversation I've ever heard. The minute she got off the phone, Brailey cried. And cried and cried and cried. It was heartbreaking. Britt and I neither one knew what to do other than to offer comfort to her.

Ever since she graduated from fifth grade, I have put the concept of middle school on ignore in my mind. This is how I cope with things I don't want to deal with. I ignore anything I don't want to accept until I am forced to accept it. I shouldn't have done this with regard to middle school.

Alas, we cheerfully went about our business on the day of the Orientation. We got our back-to-school haircuts, we ran errands, and we arrived at Brailey's new school, ready to get her schedule and locker and to get prepared for the first day of school. All of a sudden, Brailey was nervous and quiet. It was a stressful environment. We basically had to figure out where to go, what line to get in first, and it was loud with lots of lines of sixth graders and their parents. It was, as I like to refer to it now, The Great Unknown. One of my friends came over to us in one of the lines, and we hugged and talked about how sad it was that Carrie wasn't going to be there. And then I looked at Brailey, and she was choking back the tears, her little angel-face red from the effort it was costing her. That got me... But I held it together!

We made our way to the sixth grade hallway to find her locker. A very sweet eighth grade girl led us to it and showed us how to open it. And that is when my dander went up. The locker had marker on the outside of it, and the inside was so filthy and disgusting, I can't even begin to explain to you what a shock it was. I was, quite frankly, livid. There was old food in it, and stains that will not be cleaned until they are painted over. In any case, we made our way to her first classroom, and then on to the next, and then we got lost, and ended up in the seventh grade french teacher's classroom, and out of nowhere, I found myself in tears! I was not prepared for this to happen at all. Brailey was crying, also. I tried desperately to pull myself together for her. Britt later told me he had felt like crying, too, because he felt so bad for us. The very nice french teacher gave us tissues and I explained that we were lost and upset about the locker and la-la-la. She kindly took us to every classroom on Brailey's schedule, and as we parted, she went to the office to report the locker. We will always be grateful to this teacher for her kindness.

As soon as we got home, I emailed the school and told them the locker was unacceptable. I wouldn't hang a cleaning rag in it! After a few haggles, they agreed to give her a new locker, which we made a special trip to see the next day and to practice opening. I learned they hadn't even cleaned the lockers before the sixth graders arrived. So they cleaned them the day after the orientation, the same day we arrived to see Brailey's new locker, which was much cleaner and newer, but a "double," and sporting a gynormous dried booger on the front of it. Still, it was so much better than the previous locker, we didn't complain. However, someone needs to take the cleaning of the lockers much more seriously. I sent her with cleaning wipes to get the booger off.

The first day of school proved to be an emotional one, as well. It reminded me of first grade all over again. Staff members met us at the front door and asked us to "say our goodbyes there." If I had it to do again, I would have walked her to her locker, whether they liked it or not. But I did what they asked, sucking my tears down. Brailey sucked her tears down, as well, and went off on her way. The look on her face was nearly more than I could bear, but I wanted to do the right thing and let her spread her wings a little. I cried the second she left and for a good portion of the day. I walked her to the front door every day for the rest of the week. Even though I was the only parent I saw doing this. Brailey held my hand the entire way, and it broke my heart to leave her there, knowing she was full of fear and sadness. But she got a little stronger every day and survived her first week.

And now here we are in our second week. It is slowly getting better, but she continues to pull tears out of my heart (okay, my eyes, too) every morning. She is being strong and trying hard, but still struggling to adjust. So am I. Yet she is looking forward to trying out for the school play. Volleyball starts this weekend. She made a new friend in PE. Several girls have actually given her compliments, which never happened at Buena Vista. One girl Brailey thought was super mean has been surprisingly nice to her this year. She is learning how to be Brailey-without-Carrie. I didn't realize how much of her identity was wrapped up in their friendship, and I now know it is a blessing for her to become Brailey Shaye sans Carrie. I think the tears will dry up as the days go by. She doesn't know I'm still crying (even as I'm writing this, damn it!), and so I think I'm pulling off that strong mother act. In the meantime, we are taking it one day at a time.


  1. I just had high school orientation a few weeks ago and it was pretty tough. None of my close friends are going to the same high school I'm at now, so it was pretty hard the first few days. But its been so much better, I've made friends and I've gotten to know the school better. I hope you both have a good year. :)

    1. She is doing better, Helena. It is cool that you understand her pain. Hang in there! Have the best frosh year of your life! :-)

    2. i'm glad to hear. yeah its gotten better now that ive met people and stuff. hope she's enjoying herself, it all goes wayy too fast :)


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