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Thursday, August 19, 2010

The awkward years

Junior High sucked.

That's what I remember about seventh and eighth grades. Kids from several different elementary schools converging to be educated in six separate periods a day, with dress down P.E., combination locks and no outdoor recess to speak of, was way too overwhelming for me. Just the concepts of a before and after school snack stand and dances were hard for my twelve-year-old brain to get around.

There was too much information coming at me from too many sources. Combine that with the onset of puberty and you've got pre-teen John Hughes movie material.

I hated it.

Okay, there are a couple of good memories: Mr. Franzen praising my science report presentations as the most entertaining and informative he ever heard (I can tell you some interesting facts about black rhinos), getting to know girls who would become lifelong friends, and being introduced to real literature.

But the scale tipped far towards humiliation more than anything good. I have disturbing memories of face-planting in the gym while chasing a boy (do not ask me why I was chasing a boy, I still have no idea what possessed me to do such a foolish thing when it held so much potential for embarrassment), a fear of not having something to do during lunch break (i.e.; a group to walk around with and belong to), having my new pair of swishy sweatpants borrowed and ruined in P.E., losing my temper and storming out of a classroom after having enough teasing and being labeled (deservedly so) as emotionally fragile forever on, square dancing (holding random boys' hands? Seriously?), joining the basketball team without having a clue as to how the game was played, and a P.E./dance teacher obsessed with Steve Perry (Oh Sherrie, indeed) and Chaka Khan. The horrors.

So Wee One starts middle school on Monday. I have high hopes for her. I know it will still be an awkward time, but she has a large group of good friends and more confidence than I did at the age. I'm pretty sure the biggest anxiety will be learning to shave. But we'll get through that together.

That may be the biggest difference: parents who are able to be involved. My single mom did what she could just to provide for us physically. Wee One is blessed with a great dad and a mom who doesn't have to work to support her family. I plan on taking advantage of that to help navigate her through the beginning of adolescence as gently as possible.

4 comments:

Matthew Rush said...

Oh man, those days were tough for me too. My daughter has just started high school, and the funny thing is that it's way more stressful for me than it is for her. She's a great kid.

Today's guest blogger is Renae Mercado!

Cheryl said...

I have horrible memories of junior high school and many fond ones as well. It's weird how they keep popping up. You're awful brave to bring up the subject.

Ellie said...

Dealing with similar issues. The uncharted waters of growing up, at least we can be proactive. I, too, am at home, right now...it does seem to help the transition! I think I am worrying more than her. They seem to walk in, with this nonchalant attitude...where did she get this from? Not me!

Hopefully we will survive their jitters ;-D

Blooming Eventually said...

Oh did that bring back memories. Square dancing! and those laps-of-social-torture in the halls at lunch. Do you remember when some boy threw a paper airplane at me with a pin stuck through the front, and it stuck in my itty bitty breast? Yikes. I remember that dance teacher, too. At least we had each other... ;-)

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