Friday, March 4, 2011

Middle School

My youngest child is in the sixth grade, which means next year, he will officially be in "middle school".


If I scrunch up my face and squeeze my brain hard enough,
     I can recall a few good memories from that time,
but mostly, I HATED middle school.

My teachers were all OLD.
I think they were born at the school. 
And, they did not seem to like us "middle school-aged creatures" very much. 

I don't remember learning ANYTHING,
     other than how to stay afloat and survive how to be "that age".   

Last night, I attended my son's middle school orientation.
Many words were spoken,
     but the ones that resonated the most were when the principal said something like -

     ".............and they go from being children to being expected to act like little adults."

As my friend sitting next to me said,

     "and THIS is supposed to be making us feel BETTER?",

I thought to myself,

THAT  is EXACTLY how I felt, as a seventh grader.

I wasn't READY to leave the age when life was still innocent and fun -  
     when I did not have to worry about how to do my hair,
whether or not to wear make-up, how to walk, who to hang out with,
     or what other people think!

I just wanted to.....................

     "ride my horse, play kickball, 
     and hang out with my best friend, David Lineberry.  
The End." 

Like Buzz Lightyear, from Toy Story, however,
      I felt like someone had mistakenly plucked me out of my childhood with a GIANT CLAW,
dropping me into some horrible dream.

I wouldn't say, however, that I was completely unprepared.

Somewhere towards the end of my sixth grade year,   
     I was using the bathroom mirror to aid in adjusting the barrettes in my hair,
when one of the "popular" girls walked up and told me that my hair was pretty.

     "It IS???"  I responded, 
as if that thought had never crossed my mind (which it probably hadn't).     

To this day, I am still not sure if she was sincere, or if she was somehow making fun of me.

I caught that same girl in the bathroom that same year............... "practicing" her walk.


She had a "walk".  

Well, more of a "strut", really.   

It was in the sixth grade, when girls were starting to feather their hair,
     wear make-up, grow boobs,
and practice their walk.......................

     that I was faced with the reality that I was no longer just a "kid".


So, when I entered the seventh grade, I started trying to think like a "girl",
    and not the "tomboy" that I had always been,
which did not involve much thinking, at all.  

I talked my parents into investing in contact lenses and
     allowing me to get my hair feathered.
I liked it, but it meant getting up early to take a shower every morning,
so that I could spend the hour necessary to blow dry it,
                                                                                      curl it,
                                                                                                     style it.

 Definitely much more labor intensive than snapping in two barrettes. 

I experimented with clothing.
Designer jeans were all the rage, but it took a few pair before I could find the right ones.
I still remember Jaimie Sabo making fun of me, one day,
     for wearing jeans that were too baggy.
He also made fun of me in the sixth grade for wearing a training bra.


I never wore those jeans again.

I was short, but Jaimie Sabo was shorter than me.
To this day, I don't know why I was intimidated by him.
If I could, I would go back to that moment and say something to him.
Something smart and witty.   
Something that would leave him standing, speechless, in the middle of the hallway,
     alone, with nothing but his stupidity, embarrassment, and short height.    

Wait a minute.  

That would mean going back to middle school.  

Scratch that thought.

As I said, I don't know why I was so intimidated by him.
I did not intimidate easily, as I would soon find out........................   

One day, I was walking home from school with my very good friend, Yvette Buot.
Her house was not very far from the school, and I would frequently go home with her.
She and her family were Phillipino,
     and I still remember the wonderful aromas from her mom's cooking.
She fed me my first fried bananas - still a favorite of mine, to this day.

Anyways, some eighth grade girls were walking on the other side of the street.
I believe there were three of them,
     though, I only remember the names of two -  

     Patty and Elaine. 

Yvette and I were just happily, innocently walking along,
     when the girls yelled over to us from across the street.

     "SEVVIES!" they hollered. 

I don't remember if they said it once, or multiple times, but I do remember thinking to myself,
     "Okay.  I'll play along."   

     "EIGHT BALLS!"  I hollered back.

That didn't go over well.

They immediately started walking towards us, in a very threatening manner,
    insisting that I take those words back.
Honestly, even in my seventh grade brain, I thought the entire scenario was ridiculous.

"You called me a sevvy.  I called you an Eight Ball.
                                Game's over.  Move on!" I thought to myself. 

But, now, they were in my face, and threatening my space,
     and all I knew was that I was NOT going to let these bullies intimidate me.

     "Take it back, or I'm going to punch you in the face!" one of them said.

I don't remember saying anything at all, but I KNEW that I was not going to take it back.
The question was whether or not they were as tough as their words.

Patty was the scariest looking, but Elaine is the one who threw the punch.

Next thing I remember, I was at Yvette's house, on the phone with my mom.

What is it about a mom's voice? 

Up until that moment, I had held myself together, but the minute I heard her voice,
     the emotions began to trickle over.     

I shared this story with my son, not too long ago.
He kind of stared at me in disbelief.
I think it is difficult for children to imagine that their moms were once kids, too.
Hence, the expression, "You don't understand! You don't know what it's like!"

There is no doubt in my mind that growing up today is MUCH more difficult
     than it was when I was a kid.
However, I have no reason to think that my son's experience in middle school
    will be as unpleasant as mine was.

That being said, I still wish he could hold onto his innocence for a little while longer.   

I never had anymore issues with Patty and Elaine.
I believe they were suspended from school for a period of time,
     and I never talked to them again.

Would I have done anything differently?
Knowing what I know NOW, I would have just ignored them from the start.

But................................. I didn't know. 

I was just a kid.  




  1. This is my favorite one so far. I'm speechless. I'm so sorry we weren't friends back then... so we must "fix this" and become friends now. :-)