A second grader will come home from school the first day and say, “Guess what? Teacher has a rabbit in our class and she says we can pet it on Friday if we’re good. And on Friday we get to buy popcorn for only 50 cents a bag – can I have 50 cents? And guess what else? I got to sit on the carpet and read three books this afternoon and Teacher said what a good reader I am!” And all this information might come pouring out before the parent can even ask how the day went.
The conversation with a middle schooler on the first day might go like this:
Parent: How was school?
MS: Fine, but it was only the first day.
P: Was it nice seeing your friends?
MS: Yeah, but I don’t have Taylor in any of my classes.
P: What was the best part of your day?
MS: Well, my math teacher didn’t give us any homework, so that was good. Nothin’ else was good.
And then day two might sound like this:
Parent: How did today go?
MS: It was so awesome! The fire alarm went off during algebra, so we all had to go outside and when we came back in, it was too late for a new assignment!
MS: Yeah, and then at lunch we made Heather laugh so hard she blew milk out of her nose, and Todd fell out of his seat because he was laughing so hard.
P: Sounds like an interesting day.
Ms: Yeah, I can’t wait to see what happens tomorrow!
There are a couple things going on here. First of all, it’s not always cool to like school too much. (In middle school it may not be cool to like anything too much, lest you bring upon you the scorn of your peers.) Secondly, while a parent may want to know about teachers and classes, a middle schooler is mostly interested in friends and social goings-on.
The best thing a parent can do is sound interested in whatever is shared with excitement. Try to show you understand why it was so funny/dumb/irritating, and you’ll be sure to hear more stories about fire drills and spewing food!