There is something about this time of year - the way everyone is poised on the threshold of the next step - that makes the passage of time more palpable and more concrete than usual. Middle schoolers are visibly reflecting on their own aging. It’s intentional; we have structures in place that invite this self-consciousness and even amplify the sense of portent. I toured the fourth graders around the middle school, we invite and celebrate the twelfth graders (our former lower and middle schoolers) in middle school meeting, and every day the eighth graders refine their reflections for moving up. Time is always passing, students mature and grow day by day, but it’s these moments of transition that you feel it.
The fifth graders gave advice to the visiting fourth graders and in doing so sounded - and clearly felt - old and wise. Don’t drink too much chocolate milk, they said seriously. And don’t be afraid to ask for help. Remember to do a little bit of homework every night and don’t wait until the last minute. Just a few short seasons ago they were just as new to middle school life. Now, they see themselves through the fourth graders' eyes and their nascent sixth grader-ness comes alive.
The middle schoolers see their future selves reflected in the older students too. When the twelfth graders came to our assembly, teachers spoke about each one’s young self - their misadventures, fourth grade poetry, and napping habits. I watched the middle schoolers watching them, picturing - I imagine - how these apparently grown people were once their own age. Look at these twelfth graders and imagine yourself sitting here,I told them at the assembly. What will teachers remember about you? What will it feel like to look back on this time?
The whole middle school is leaning into the big next step. They see the rising grades below them and feel seasoned, confident. They look ahead at their older schoolmates and see their future - exciting, uncertain, and full of promise. These transitions are poignant for you as parents and, while it's not always obvious, even more so for your children. Enjoy these last days and don’t be surprised if your children feel very old one moment and very young the next. Or both at once. It’s a side effect of the age and of the season and it’s terrific.