…on Leaving Middle School

“My last day of 8th grade feels like my first. I’m just a little more tired, more experienced, and know a little more about trigonometry.”–Seiji

Dear Grandson,

No big deal, right?

Okay, leaving middle school for high school isn’t like REALLY graduating. You are not leaving your friends. You aren’t leaving home. You’ve watched your sister take the leap and survive – even flourish.

And it is still huge, isn’t it?

You are taking a big step. Moving into the unknown is both terrifying and exhilarating. You are flushed with success and quivering with anticipation without really comprehending the ramifications.

What you consider to be the last dregs of childhood are being left behind. Maybe you felt that way at the end of grade school, but your parents didn’t. The world didn’t. Now, when you remove the cloak of middle school student you are taking on the role of young person. You begin your internship in adulthood.

Your actions will be judged differently from now on. There is an expectation of responsibility for yourself that has been handed off to you and now must be honed. By the end of the next four years your good and bad decisions will belong to you alone (although they can have far-reaching effects).

Everything counts more now. Your grades, your behavior, your attitude…all reflect on you.

Parents, teachers and coaches will be especially important in the next four years. They will be your mentors and guides more than your caretakers. They will allow you more freedom in your decisions and hold your more accountable. All this is good. Making mistakes when you still bounce into an adult’s protection and guidance is practice for thinking more clearly in the future. If you pay attention, their lessons in working through problems will let you glide more easily into handling things on your own.

Believe me, dear grandson, I am not making light of your maturity now. Many times I admire your perspective on life. You have always been a thoughtful and deep thinking child who looks critically at questions and issues that are raised. You are well-traveled, well-educated, and are well-versed in politics and human rights. You have been exposed to diversity in many of its guises and you understand its nuances in day-to-day living.

This is a good base.

That’s why I have great faith that you are ready to grow. I see glimpses of the man you will become.

Sometime this summer or fall you will hear an internal “click” that will signal the changes in you and in your life. You will blink and know that you are different. This won’t have been the first signal and won’t be the last – but it is a milestone along the way to manhood.

Pay attention, dear heart. Celebrate the end of middle school with joy. Relish the successes of your time there. Breathe deeply with the assurance that you are ready to move on.

And as always…make good decisions.* It is a big deal!


* I just can’t help being a Grammy!


  1. This is so wonderful! Can’t wait to show him when he gets back from his last day! See you this afternoon!


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