I know that knowledge is power, and I always try to be honest and forthright with my kids. As they get older, there is less I need to 'hide' from them about life, and they can process a lot more, provided I present it in an age-appropriate context. Why, then, am I having such a hard time with receiving the same treatment from Jacob's middle school?
Last week was the first full week of school. I worried about Jacob getting lost and being late for class; I worried about the strain on his back from all the books he carts back and forth from school; I worried about the bus ride with all the 13-year-olds and what he'd be hearing and experiencing, whether he'd be able to deal with it all. Thankfully, he calmed me with his own comfort level, sense of confidence and easy smiles. The first week ended well for both of us.
This week, the emails started from school. One day, I learned that a 7th grader had brought a pocket knife on the bus to show his friends, and had it in his locker at school. A conscientious student reported the incident, and the knife was confiscated, the student reprimanded. I'm sure the administration presented the context and sequence of events in such a way as to prevent parents from panicking, to convey the fact that everything was under control and that at no time were any students in danger.
The next day, we were informed that one of the staff members was recently diagnosed wtih Viral Meningitis. We were told not to confuse this with the more serious Bacterial Meningitis, which can result in brain damage, hearing loss, learning disabilities and, you know, death. Viral Meningitis, on the other hand, is "serious but rarely fatal in people with normal immune systems," according to the CDC.
Yes, I know that pre-teens use bad judgment, and make bad choices, as they gear up to be really effective teenagers. And it's true that I would not have gone to the CDC website to learn all about meningitis had I not been given the link by the school.
But did I really want to know about these incidents, which ultimately presented no danger or harm to my own child? I'd have to say no.
Did I need to know? Probably.
I guess the good of it all is that I now have confidence in Jacob's new school administration to swiftly address issues that arise, and keep me informed about the details, as well as what I need or don't need to do about them.
But I also realized that I am going to have to ease into this new school environment almost as much as Jacob. We are both on the edge of tremendous changes that will, without a doubt, rock both of our worlds over the next three years. And it's going to take some getting used to.
So I'm thinking about not checking my email for a few days, just so I can go back to worrying about simple things, like whether his sneakers are getting too small, or if he remembered to put deodorant on after gym class. I want to revel in blissful ignorance of the world my baby is really going into each morning when he leaves me.
If only for a little while longer.