My god, how did I get here?!

Tonight, The Musician graduates from grade 8.  He heads to high school in September.  This shit?  Is bananas.

How did this happen?  How did my sweet baby boy turn into a teenaged middle school graduate?  How is it even possible that I am old enough to have a teenaged middle school graduate??

He has been in school for 10 years, and I can pretty much recall every year, every teacher, every obstacle that he faced.  Some obstacles were within him (remedial scissor work in JK, remedial printing in SK, some trouble with his Rs up until about grade 3) and some were put there by outside forces (bullies and horrible teachers, to name just a couple).  But he always prevailed. 

In grade 5 he had probably one of the shittiest years on record.  His teacher was awful – and I am not one for putting the blame on too many people, but she was really a piece of work.  She didn’t like boys, she isolated them, favouring the girls and allowing the girls to do whatever they wanted.  She bullied my kid, truthfully.  He’s always been a nervous kind of kid, but his anxiety for this entire year was off the charts.  But did he ever talk shit about her or blame her?  Never.  I can cry thinking about that year, but my amazing boy just sucked it up, got shit done and moved the fuck on.  Only now will he once in awhile say “hey remember grade 5?  That teacher?  Yeah, she wasn’t really very nice, was she?”  And it’s far enough out now that we can dish on how horrible she really was.

Overall his school experience so far has been a good one.  He has shone at so many things, made friends, endured his share of life lessons and I think he knows that as this chapter ends, the best is yet to come.

There have been times when I wished I could keep him in a bubble.  Keep him away from the outside forces that threaten him, keep him safe from bullies and the disappointments life can throw your way.  It’s not realistic or even smart, but the feeling is there.  But even at the height of my worry and anxiety, so many times he’d look at me with a “don’t worry, I got this” kind of expression, and I would want to kick myself.  Of course he’s got this.  He can do it.  He doesn’t need me for this, he is perfectly capable.  He is amazing.

So tonight, as I blubber my way through the ceremony and watch him walk across the stage to officially finish grade 8, I will remember:

The not-even-4-year old that I brought to JK, who impressed the teacher with his incredible rhyming abilities (“If I say ‘cat’, can you rhyme something with that word?” “Well…rat, sat, mat, that, drat, pat, bat…” “Okay!  Very good…and…” “…at, flat, hat, spat…” )

The senior kindergarten kid who needed help with his letters, but who never had any trouble speaking, even in the French Immersion environment.

The grade one kid who had to endure the beginnings of the bullied years, and who also managed to soldier on after his grandpa died at the beginning of the school year.

The grade two kid whose teacher, while lovely and nice, seemed to think that perhaps he needed medical attention because he was a bit twitchy.  (the beginning of the anxious years)

The grade three boy who was amazing in the face of some other devastating (but thankfully temporary) family changes, and who excelled at karate in spite of – or because of – the continued bullying.

The grade 4 boy who absolutely shone thanks to an amazing teacher and showed a renewed enthusiasm for school and school work.

The unfairness of that grade 5 year, where everything wonderful from the previous year got shot to hell within the first few weeks, but he somehow managed to enjoy himself, and embark on a pretty special friendship with an awesome karate girl, who is still one of his very best friends.

The boy from grade 6 who entered middle school with a fresh start, started on an intense orthodontic journey (which he continues to tolerate like a trouper) and basically just had a kickass year.

The grade 7 boy who matured and grew in leaps and bounds, who became a serious bass player, and who, at the end of the year, met 3 other boys who invited him to try out for their band…and the rest is rock and roll history.

And finally the amazing young man of grade 8.  Bass player extraordinaire, wonderful big brother; funny, intelligent, questioning, fair and downright awesome.

So.  How did I get here?  It’s been a crazy ride, and there’s no doubt it’s going to get crazier.  But I say bring it on, because I know I can handle it.  And what’s even more important?  I know my boy can handle it too.  Maybe even better than me.

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