I’m one of the lucky ones. Others haven’t fared as well. Like Debbie, whose son Aaron ditched her in fourth grade, proclaiming he no longer needed accompaniment to the school bus. Never mind that Debbie was a dog-walking mom who congregated at the corner to take the furry four-leggers after the kids were on their way. Instead, Debbie adjusted and came after the bus left, giving her son the freedom he craved.
It didn’t take much longer for Aaron to continue his rejection rampage. Why wait with girls when there were plenty of boys and testosterone at the stop one block away? We never saw Aaron again.
Kathleen’s dad didn’t have a chance, as he found out when he picked up his 13-year-old daughter. He decided to stand against the car since Kathleen was expecting her mom. Big mistake. “Get in the car! Get in the car NOW!” He was nastily scolded and informed he was never to wait for her outside the car again. Ever.
Welcome to the tween and teen years. Perhaps you notice it gradually. Like when your usually compliant child begins no longer to be so accommodating. Or perhaps it arrives like a a fireball. In any case, life as you know it will not be the same.
As a parent, you learn to deal with the rejection slowly, indiscernible at times, like the height of your children as they grow before your eyes. It becomes more apparent as you remember those happy first- and second-graders with their character backpacks and matching bows. How did it go so fast?
I personally made it all the way through elementary school. I suspect if we had middle school in our district, I would have been banned by fifth grade. But I was lucky to make it through sixth. I recall getting daily goodbye kisses through fourth grade and then a wave and a smile. Success.
Now with my kids in junior high and high school, my dog, Gracie, is the one who misses the bus stop the most. No more happy-to-see-you children-at the bus stop or elsewhere for that matter. Yes, Gracie. Welcome to the tween and teen years. I know the feeling.
Lucy Latourette is a freelance writer, Chicagoan and mother of two.