Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Middle School

Smack dab in the middle of that awkward stage

Dear Daughter,

Tomorrow you start middle school... middle school, the era in which about 97% of adults agree was the worst time in their adolescence. 

For me, it was technically junior high which consisted of 7th and 8th grades, so I was a year older than you when I began the adventure of lockers, changing classes, school dances and... feeling so unfit for the social structure that it made me sick to my stomach.

My optimistic side is screaming that you will be okay. You will be okay because you are not me circa 1990. You will be okay because you're already more socially adept than I ever was at your age. You will be okay because anti-bullying efforts are as prevalent now as Hyper-Color shirts were when I roamed the halls of Churchill Junior High. And finally... and I hope most of all, you will be okay because I will be there to relate with my personal experiences. 

My pessimistic side keeps breaking through with a bullhorn telling me that the pain of these years is inevitable. You won't be okay because kids at this age are cruel in a way that cannot be cured by a "buddy bench." You won't be okay because you did inherit some of my crippling sensitivity. You won't be okay because some of your friends will mature faster than you, leaving you behind... which will break your heart. And finally, and I hope least likely... you won't be okay because your mom will be unable to cope with your pain. 

While you are more excited than nervous, I find myself dealing with the inverse. But I'm keeping all that shit inside and far away from you. It's not your problem. This transition has been a worry since before I knew you would ever exist. I told myself that if I ever became a parent, don't ever forget what it was like to go through the hell of junior high. Don't lose touch with feeling so incredibly out of place, yet so desperate for acceptance. Don't shut out the confusion of those familiar friends becoming strangers overnight, as if you'd missed a few episodes of your life. And most of all, don't dismiss or ignore the intensity of the pain, because that will only make your kid feel like he or she deserves how helpless they may feel. 

My brain is a mess with the optimism, pessimism and expectations from my past... but the one thing that hangs over it all like an umbrella is my determination to be your emotional rock. If I find myself at a loss for the perfect piece of advice or strategy to get you through a tough situation... I can listen and listen until we figure it out together. That's all I ever wanted at your age... someone to listen so I didn't feel so alone. 

So, my sweet girl... I may not always have the answers and I may not fully understand the scope of how you're feeling, but my arms and ears are open for you always. 




Dear Me,

You got through it and are stronger for it. 



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