Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My Redo of Middle School at 29 (plus or minus ten years)

For many years, I’ve done well to block out anything that could possibly have scarred me for life during my pre-teen years. Every morning in Middle School, I’d go to my friend Lourdes’ house and we’d watch videos on MTV. We’d carpool to school and swoon over our favorite Duran Duran band member. I recall the fun times with my girlfriends at recess playing high jump and giggling about which boy of the day we had a crush on. I had a favorite teacher, Mr. Buettner, who told me I was smart and always gave me A’s. I don’t even remember what subject he taught, but I’m sure I was good at it.

I was a total Duran-ie!

So flash forward a few years, ahem!, to 2010. In May, at my oldest son Zach’s 5th grade graduation (and even before that day), he and his friends were so excited about finishing elementary school and beginning what they were so sure was the start of growing up. As the driver for the afternoon carpool, I’d listen in as the kids romanticized the transition to the bigger school and the things they would get to do because they were “growing up”. To them, Middle School meant having a cell phone (Ba! To me it meant hearing Zach’s uncanny lawyer-esque abilities to layout and backup the argument for needing one), getting to walk to Rock ‘n Frog Yogurt after school with friends, going to dances (or talking insistently about how the dances would be boring and then some needling about how so-and-so likes so-and-so), and getting to just “hang out” when and where they wanted (in their dreams!).

School has now been in session for six weeks. It took Zach less than one of those weeks to figure out that it’s not what he’d envisioned. Middle School was such an exciting change for him in his eyes and I see that all the great things about it are getting quashed by the demands of an increased workload, sports, and a desire for an active social life.

So, what can I do, if anything, to help him through it? If I force myself to think harder about my own Middle School experience, I do remember some of the bad things — getting my $0.25 bus fare stolen by a bully, reading the response in a letter to my request for a date to the dance “No”, having the nickname “Teamer” because I was so bad at high jump that I played on both teams (Oh, the injustice!). There were a lot of road bumps I hit, yet somehow I emerged just fine even if just a bit nicked and dented.

I know I’ll have a lot of posts about the struggles we’re already having as our sweet and dashing young man goes through his pre-teen years and beyond. I feel as if I’m redoing Middle School, even though I finished it so long ago. I hope I’m able to keep the lines of communication with my own child, that I know I myself closed off with my parents when I began my pre-teen years. I’d like to do whatever I can to help my son through his time right now. Like me, I’d hope he would mostly remember the good things … and I’d like to add that I also know I couldn’t possibly have been THAT bad at high jump.

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