Change: taught by a middle-schooler

I don’t think I ever learned in school a fraction of what I learn from my children. Childbirth alone was an education – even with the epidural.  From their birth on, my boys continue to enlighten me as they change. Recently, my 7th grader switched middle schools and in doing so taught me a few new lessons about life.

  1. Change is okay. You know that song by Davie Bowie, Changes? Ch ch ch ch changes – turn and face the strain… Well, first off it turns out I have been singing it wrong my entire life. Who knew? I thought it was “strange” not “strain!”

After all, change is strange. My son had been at his school since pre-school and only had two more years left before he would graduate to go to high school. He loved his friends. He did well academically. I did not see any reason to change.

But he did.

He was open to the experience of an academic magnet school, to be the new kid, to start over.

Starting down a new path is probably one of the bravest things we can do. To risk the unknown is scary. To walk away from the safety, the comfort and the convenience of our situations to try something unfamiliar can be daunting. But by allowing the possibility of failure we also allow for the greater possibility of success.

Ch ch ch ch changes…

  1. Listening is really important. While we did not consider the magnet option until the beginning of the summer, I could hear the need for change throughout the past school year.


Only I didn’t listen.

When he talked to me about being bored at school, I thought he was just being a typical adolescent. I was not as open or as patient with him as I should have been. I thought the problem was with him. Rather it was with me.

We all go into situations and conversations thinking about our own point of view, and often are not very open to hearing anything, which doesn’t support that. However, listening to another perspective with the intent to understand is often more enlightening than interpreting conversations into our own viewpoints.

  1. Pigeonholes are for desks, not for people. I assumed my son would never consider leaving his school because I thought I knew him.


After all, he is my child and we have spent a considerable amount of time together.

I would have told you that he would NEVER switch schools. And, that he would be traumatized from that kind of change.

But I saw him from my own perspective, which is colored from my own experiences. I would have been devastated to switch schools at his age so I assumed he would have too.

One of the greatest things about life is that we can start over. We don’t even have to wait until tomorrow. We can start anytime we want. We tend to get stuck in our labels and in our self-defined regimens. Worse still is that we pigeonhole others.

We fail to see the multi-dimensions of our neighbors and ourselves. I am a mother, a Christian, a writer, a friend, a wife, however I am not singularly any of these things and together I am more than the sum of these parts.

Free yourself and the people in your life from the constraints of what you think you know. If you want to change, then change.

Fly free, little pigeon.

  1. Fight for what you want. Once I realized that my son needed something different than what I planned for him, I dedicated myself to making sure he had it. It wasn’t easy. There were forms, rules, bureaucracy and waiting lists. So, I made phone calls to guidance counselors, principals, county school administrators. I showed up uninvited and unannounced – I asked questions and asked for prayers (from the people working in the public school office no less — they probably prayed that they would never have to see me again.) I did everything I knew to do that remained in the bounds of sanity.


But the truth is, it was out of my hands once I turned in the application. Still, I couldn’t be complacent when my child wanted this so badly; when he felt like it was what he needed.

So I fought.   Often, it really isn’t about winning or losing. It’s about knowing you did all that you could. It’s about showing someone else that you believe in them; that they are worth it to you; that even if you don’t prevail, you persevered.

There is really no losing that kind of fight.

  1. Endings are really just new beginnings. I hate when things are over. I get nostalgic and weepy. I cry until my eyes burn and my head aches. I don’t know if that is normal, but it’s just what I do so I try not to beat my self about it.

So of course, this was no different.

But I realize he couldn’t embrace all that awaited him and remain where he was. He was indeed giving up a very special community of friends and teachers, a place where he had been loved and cherished, a place I knew he would miss.

Still, at the moment of his goodbye he was on the cusp of a new beginning.

Sometimes in life we have to let go of something so we can make room for something else– new experiences await, new friendships, new ideas. The possibilities are endless and they begin with an ending.

So those are the most recent lessons I have learned as a parent. I am all the wiser for what my son taught me and only hope to be so brave as “I turn and face the strange… ch ch ch changes”

I really think “strange” sounds better than “strain.” I think I am just going to keep on singing it wrong.

Sorry, David Bowie.


Often children are our best teachers.  What have you learned from your miniature-guru?  And, perhaps just as important, do you think strange makes more sense than strain?!  Ch ch ch changes… To read more on parenting:…-it-in-the-trash/






10 thoughts on “Change: taught by a middle-schooler

  • February 13, 2018 at 2:36 am

    Thank God for new beginnings.

    • February 14, 2018 at 3:38 am

      Yes, that is his mercy! It allows for do-overs and who doesn’t need that?!

  • September 25, 2014 at 10:29 pm

    A couple of things..
    First of all, I absolutely killed myself to have a ton of time off from work in August so that I could be around for my daughter to adjust to a new school. She went to the open house the Sunday before school began, showed up the first day of school, and immediately told me that “maybe you can come to lunch next week.” She had been in the same school for 3 years, yet was ready for change. More importantly, she was excited at the prospect of learning. I was the one who was terrified.
    That being said, I am, by nature, a mover. A runner. Always ready for the next adventure. Change is not strange, or a strain. Change is exciting! But when it is imposed on someone I love…I worry! I think as parents we need to constantly keep our eyes open, let down our guard, and be willing to stray from the preconceived, safe path in our mind.

    • September 30, 2014 at 1:32 pm


      What a great attitude you have toward change! You are right too that it is all about our perspective. When you think of change you think of adventure and excitement but when you think of your daughter changing you consider ways it will impact her beyond the excitement. You are just being a good mom! I think you have the heathy outlook on change though. I am going to try and embrace your perspective and my son’s example gives me courage to do that too.

  • September 23, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    Hard to know the right thing to do as a parent. Well written.

    Sent from my iPhone

    • September 24, 2014 at 7:02 pm


      It is hard. I guess we just do the best we can with the information we have at the time and re-route as needed!

      We can probably teach our kids a lot by doing that anyway.

  • September 23, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    Congrats on hitting the grandslam of parenting. The gifted part is God-given. Instilling in him the confidence and drive to take it to the next level comes from the home setting Reading about mom worrying about the unknown and the kid having it under control is priceless.

    • September 24, 2014 at 7:00 pm

      Norm, It was enlightening to me that he was so confident about his decision. Maybe for children it is easier to trust their instinct and not create doubt and what ifs that serve no purpose. He is a wise one indeed. Maybe I will try and be like him when I grow up! I could do worse 🙂

  • September 23, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    Your blog topic is so perfect for my life right now! And I feel the same about change. (No opinion on the song as it wasn’t in my repertoire.) I have just recently realized how much my 9 year old son has indeed made me a stronger person. He is strong willed and has pushed me to my limit over the years. He has literally thickened my skin. I’ve always known God had a long term plan for me and this difficult child he blessed me with was for a reason. My current role at school is part of His plan – lots of change and thick skin required!

    • September 24, 2014 at 6:57 pm

      Ashley, First off you must add the song to your repertoire! It is such a fun song!! Yes, I think its interesting the children that God blesses us with always provide the parents with a particular challenge in humility. Truly, I have learned more from being a parent than any other role I have played in my life. It’s funny because in the end, I wonder who is really shaping who more.

Comments are closed.