The term conjures up images of institutions filled with hormonal preadolescents, smelly classrooms, messy lockers, social divisions, mean girls, bullies, and teachers who had to have drawn the short straw in the teaching pool. This age is so difficult. How do they manage a whole school filled with people who cry at the drop of a hat, have a propensity for melodrama and test every possible boundary? How do they teach them anything in this mess?
Do you remember middle school? I went to junior high, and I remember it being a little nerve-racking because I switched schools my second year in and had to make all new friends, which was tricky because of my questionable social skills.
It was difficult in different ways, too. I remember wanting desperately to fit in outwardly; my hair and clothes had to match everyone else’s. Looking back at my old yearbooks, I think I accomplished that goal. It was the 80’s. We all looked terrible.
My son and his friends wear a uniform of brand-emblazoned T-shirts, shorts, and sneakers, or athletic slides with black socks. There is no deviation from this uniform. I remember all boys dressing alike in junior high, and the current trend toward everything 80’s makes everything feel a little familiar.
I remember wanting boys to like me; back then, girls waited around for boys to like us. Now, a girl will take matters into her own hands and tell a boy she likes him and that they are now going out. Now, just as it was back then, they don’t go anywhere. Relationships begin and end in record time; true love is proclaimed and hearts are broken before lunch period is over.
I remember the drama of friendships, fighting, acting silly and obnoxious to get attention, feeling as if all adults were against me. My son is starting to act this way. I remember feeling as if my parents had suddenly aged fifty years and were shockingly unable to relate to me. What’s ridiculous is that when I was in junior high AND senior high, my parents were younger than I am now.
Teachers were an afterthought; they were all the same: old, weird, and badly dressed. These days all my kids’ teachers look exactly like I do right now, except for the young and newly-minted teachers, who just make me feel terrible about myself.
Sigh. Middle school. I guess it never gets any easier.