Ah, just to reminisce, remember in the way distant past when you picked up your little one from preschool? They were so happy to see you, ran into your arms . . . the only thing you had to worry about then was getting sick every few days from all their snotty-nose friends whose only goal seemed to be to share bodily fluids.
Then came elementary school and the kid was still happy to see you when you either arrived in carline or searched for them on the playground. But then came middle school and the carline or waiting on the street for your newly-minted adolescent. A world of difference.
Your child is not the only one who needs an orientation to middle school. You probably need it more than they do – so to help you out, here are some basic rules:
1. If you are picking up in a carline, under no circumstances get out of the car. Does not matter if a kid does the macarena on your hood, do not leave your car.
2. Getting out of your car cements the idea for your middle schooler that you have early dementia. Your very presence is already embarrassing. Your job is to stay in your car, to not ask school staff any questions and obey whoever is directing (or not) the line. Silence (yours) is golden.
3. Do not ask your middle schooler any questions until you have cleared school property. Your child does not want friends seeing him/her actually talking with you.
4. At that point, limit questions to forced choice ones, commonly known as yes or no. “How was school today?” falls in this category, as you’re only getting a one-word answer. I take that back – could be two words – “it sucked.”
5. If your child has a phone, forget items 3 and 4 above. Pretend you are a chauffeur because, in fact, you are.
Recent research (published May 2022) by no less prestigious an institution than the Stanford School of Medicine demonstrated that the teen brain tunes in less to Mom’s voice and more to unfamiliar voices. No kidding. Someone needed to commission a research study to find that out? There must be a lot of highly educated researchers who don’t have and have never seen an adolescent. They should do a field study in the wild sometime.
The researchers’ bottom line was that biology sets up an adolescent to separate from their parents and parental figures. In other words, their brain chemistry and not their attitude is responsible for that eye-rolling and elective mute/deaf behavior.
So my advice is to remember the carline/school pick-up rules and in general, not take your kid’s attitude personally. Apparently, it’s their neurotransmitters that are to blame.