Bad Mom,  Bug,  diary illos,  illos,  Life Lessons

Middle School Anxiety Day 1


Middle School is off to a roaring good start and by roaring I mean the very loud gut-wrenching vocalizations of an angst-ridden tween who is losing her mind. I’m not so sure Bug would appreciate me making fun of her here on my blog but she is always telling me to write a graphic novel so we’ll just put these sketches here and say that they may not be the whole story. I’ll give her a chance to make fun of me too. SHE has plenty of material to do so with.

I really was that horribly embarrassing parent on orientation day. Me being me, I decided to walk the dogs before orientation which was at 10am. I left at eight-ish.  Plenty of time right? My walk usually takes 45 minutes and then I take a shower (because I am the walking sweat machine). Then we’d walk to school her and I. No big thing.

Well…one thing lead to another and five minutes from getting home from walking the dogs I get a frantic call from Bug. “WHERE ARE YOU MOM?! I’M GOING TO BE LATE! I NEED YOU TO DO MY HAIR!!” fret fret fret, freak-out, freak-out, freak-out. So I rushed home, jumped in the shower, barely dried my new hairstyle of a hair cut and quickly braided her hair. We walked as fast as we could to school and then stood in line for an hour.

My wet hair was dripping all down my back and I was sweating because it’s been hotter than dog’s breath lately and it’s terribly HUMID. All the water was cumulating in the swell of my back where my butt sticks out. I can’t help it. I have a bubble butt. Bug was beyond embarrassed. If she has more acne than usual on her forehead it’s because of all the face palms. I tried my best to ride the wave of embarrassment by pretending that nothing was wrong. I greeted all her friends and their parents and we had the usual parenting social hour which you know is the worst torture ever for budding young middle-schoolers.

We survived orientation and we were both pretty excited about middle school. We went back-to-school shopping and bought about a thousand surf-related t-shirts. She got a new back pack. All was going well.

But I sensed it wasn’t so smooth-sailing when she called me twice from her Dad’s to make sure I would be there Thursday morning to do her hair if her dad dropped her off early. Poor kid. She was fretting over everything. She made a special notebook with folders and her schedule clipped prominently inside. She made sure she went to bed early two nights before so she would be in the habit of getting up early and then called me in a panic because her dad was NOT getting up early on her practice going-to-school-days. I told her not to worry. Her dad would indeed get up in time on the day he actually needed to get up early.

This is what it’s like when you have anxiety.


Today she showed up extra early. Almost an hour before school started. We took pictures with her dad and then went inside to do her hair. I went over her list of things she’d need for the day. Did she have her notebook? Did she have her lunch? Did she have her schedule and ID card? Wait What?!! OH NO SHE DID NOT! She forgot everything at her dad’s house and there was no time to go all the way to his house to get them!

Oh crap.

Much weeping and wailing went down while we packed another lunch, printed out her schedule from online and sat down to practice her new combination lock she would need for her locker. Oh my goodness, you’d think figuring out a combination lock was something out of National Treasure with secret compartments and dead sea scrolls. Turn the lock three times to the right, then two times to the left, then one time to the right…

Mom, stop screwing me up! I don’t think in pictures like you do!”

Albeit, I was trying to explain how the levers worked inside the lock with hand movements. I guess imagining the internal mechanisms of a lock don’t help everyone like they do me.  In the end I just let her muddle through it and somehow on the seventh or eighth try (after two freak-out melt-downs) she figured it out.


Kids, man. They just don’t want to be helped. But if you don’t help them YOU ARE THE WORST.

She did want me to walk her to school though which surprised me because I’ve been preparing for the parental rejection years since kindergarten. I know I’m embarrassing for her. I embarrass myself!  Surely she doesn’t want me walking her to school. But she was nervous. The whole lack of a schedule and an ID card was nerve-wracking. So I walked half way and then her friend showed up. Her friend is the exact opposite of her. Cool as a cucumber and not one bit worried about anything under the sun. She shrugged off Bug’s worries as if they were mere dandelion seeds flying in the wind. No schedule, no ID card, no problem! It’s the first day of school nobody expects you to know what you’re doing. Today is a free day!

I love her friend. I’m super sad she’s moving to New York in two days. I think we both need her.


  • bethanyactually

    Reading this post made me think of the conversations I had with Sonja when she was here last week, about how stressful it can be parenting adolescents. :) And I’ll tell you what I told her: things, at least for us, have gotten so much better in the last year or so, especially as A approached her 14th birthday. No doubt there are still challenges ahead, but once that prefrontal cortex starts developing, things just start clicking more smoothly for teenagers, who are just doing their best to grow up with embarrassing parents. :P

    That’s sad that Bug’s friend is moving (has moved?) so far away! You know we know exactly what that’s like. I hope they can stay in touch as much as they want to, and get chances to visit. <3 And I hope the first few weeks of school go smoothly for Bug and you both. We miss you guys!

  • Lynne

    Hi, reading this post I was remembering teenage angst and wasn’t breathing. I’m really glad I didn’t have a locker combination to work out as well as everything else like remembering to pack the right books, for each lesson homework etc . I hope that this week things are going a bit smoother for Bug and I’m sorry to hear her best pal is moving. That is rough. Hope she makes new friends and keeps in contact with her old one. It can be good to have the equivalent of a pen pal outside of your normal school life. If your recall Vicky at my wedding we were pen pals throughout our childhoods and adolescence’s and only spent a few weeks together in the summer holidays when she used to come and camp close to where I lived and we remained close friends.

    Btw has that parcel arrived yet I have a fear I may have sent it to an old address. Xx

  • Carrie

    Oh man. I feel for Bug. I would have been freaking too. My son is like Bug’s friend. It has definitely taught me some life lessons. Really, it will all be ok. As you can imagine, his non-nonchalant attitude sometimes drives me crazy. I wish I could take some of him and pour it into my daughter (high anxiety) and pour some of her into him. They need a better balance. Hope it all went well for her!

    • SAJ

      Thanks, you (and everyone else above too). Her day actually went really well and she loves Middle School! I’ll probably write a follow-up post but things are going smoothly. Of course I’m still a worry-wart about it all but that’s nothing new.

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