Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The New Kid

I had forgotten how hard it is to be the new kid in school. I certainly have had a lot of experience with it after seven schools in twelve years. It's something you struggle through when you have to and block out as soon as you can. Watching my eighth grade son experience being the new kid for the first time has brought back a flood of memories, and you'd think with all of my experience I could say or do something to help. But that's not possible - each person has to figure it out alone - and I do mean alone, because no matter how friendly and welcoming kids are (or aren't), you are still the only person going through this particular adjustment and no one can possibly understand what makes it so hard.

We recently got a GPS and have had fun using it. When we take a route unfamiliar to or not recommended by "Garmin" she says "recalculating...recalculating...recalculating..." until we are back on track. Being in a new school is a constant series of recalculations - walking down the halls where every face is unfamiliar, sitting in a classroom where groups of friends are chatting - except you, going to lunch in the hopes that there will be someone to sit with, riding a bus through unfamiliar roads with rowdy and unfriendly kids...etc. It's exhausting! You can never relax during your day because every conversation and action takes extra effort to "fit in" and not draw attention to your differences. The end of every day is a relief and you think "that wasn't so bad, I did pretty well today" but when Mom says "tell me about your day" you don't even want to think about it, you just want to forget it, and it feels harder to do it again the next day. It's not one specific thing it's the constant readjustments, small and large, that wear you down. Like Chinese water torture.

Of course time makes everything better. Things become easier in small, almost unnoticeable increments, and suddenly you can look back and remember how much harder it was those first few months. Eventually (if you are lucky and stay long enough, which I never did) you feel like you belong and this is your school. And the memory of those first few month or years fades until years later when you have to helplessly stand by and watch your own child fight his own lonely battle. But I am wrong, we can help - we can make home a sanctuary to come back to, we can resist underestimating how hard everything is for them (because we really don't want to relive it ourselves), and we can make sure our children know that Jesus walks with them wherever they go, and no one understands loneliness better than him.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent blog! Praying for you all. Not ready to go through this with mine yet. You should really write more often. You are very good at it!