Monday, August 31, 2015

7th Grader!

Just as Isabelle has had to learn how to be a middle schooler, Eric & I have had to learn how to be parents to a middle schooler.... and we don't think we adjusted as quickly, or as well, as Isabelle did.  

Isabelle has always been a breeze to raise who's given us a long list of things to brag about.  She's mature, has a compulsion to help others mixed with a big heart for animals, and this uncanny knack for being silly at the exact right moments- all of which Eric & I have guarded fiercely, never making apologies for the standards we have set, or the rules we have implemented- even when it means exposing her to some of life's harsher aspects, like concentration camps or homelessness, in order to nurture a realistic & compassionate approach to the world she lives in.  
Isabelle has always been very social and "a little up in the clouds," as every teacher she has ever had describes her, but, the kid gets straight A's in her sleep and is always eager to be the teacher's pet, so they forgave her quickly.  She's just too sweet to get annoyed with, so Eric & I always let her slide.

But as parents, what we didn't prepare ourselves for was that eventually the dynamics of middle school would leak into her beautiful, breezy spirit, and all that we have guarded so fiercely would be exposed to a world so much bigger than she is, transforming our little girl in the clouds into a middle schooler, ruled by mascara, peer pressure, Youtube, and cute clothes.... and that it would happen literally... over night.  

One of three new pair of shoes.

While she may have mastered some, and just weathered others, the dynamics of being a middle schooler left our up-in-the-clouds Isabelle very disorganized and too focused on things like hanging out at the skating rink, to concentrate on the more important parts of being a middle schooler, like handing in assigments on time and being less sassy to her parents.
Isabelle still made the honor roll, and scored in the 90th national percentile across the board on her Terra Nova test scores, but the lack of organization gave her poor teachers more headaches than they deserved, and Eric more eye-rolls than his eyes could handle!  So, Eric & I have decided to implement new rules this year to maybe bring Isabelle a little closer to Earth: 1) a nightly curfew on all electronics, 2) a zero tolerance for late or missing assignments, 3) maintain a 3.7+ GPA, and 4) her having to be involved in one extracurricular activity each semester.  Because of Isabelle's GPA and Terra Nova scores last year, she landed in a high school credited Spanish class, and her teacher made it crystal clear that it is a high school class, at high school level, and she won't make exceptions for younger students.  If this kid is qualifying for high school credited classes, she has got to get more organized and have better concentration!  Eric & I knew that in order to help Isabelle stay organized, we have to help her learn better study habits starting now, whether she likes our new rules or not, we have to start somewhere.

Our hope (fingers crossed) is that Isabelle will continue to mature gracefully, but with clear expectations of what the world expects of a 12 year old.  {I've accepted the fact that I can not get through the next few years without a fully stocked wine supply....and I may just stay in a constant tipsy state until this kid graduates college.  And I'm not sure that my fingers will ever be normal again from being crossed so tightly.  But whatever.}

While Eric & I just couldn't quite get a handle on our girl maturing in the blink of an eye, Isabelle isn't phased by anything, and her mature logic mixed with a compassionate heart and stubborn brain tells us that since 6th grade was a breeze, 7th grade will be too.