Meanwhile as a parent of a new student I was supposed to be chatting with some other parents about a memorable moment from my own middle school days.
So, let’s see…. I could have spoken about the bus rides where the kids would corner my sister and I and tease us horribly, sometimes pulling down their pants to embarrass us. Or maybe the joy of becoming a cheerleader, and then the realization that it had made me less popular because I had separated a clique. Or maybe it was cross-country where the coach made me run extra because I had such bad stomach aches I was slower than everyone else.
Instead I chose the most innocuous memory… being teased by the other girls for only putting mascara on my top eyelashes and not my bottom ones.
I wasn’t the only one who had a boat load of baggage to choose from when asked about middle school. The question raised chuckles around the room, and the woman I compared notes with told of her mom fitting a dress to her slight body so she would feel good about going to a dance.
I’m not sure in which level of Dante’s Hells Middle School was conceived, but I do know it can bring even the most confident adult to tremors just thinking about it. I have decided that it is not Kindergarten where parents prove their mettle; it is the walk from the car door to the double wide ones of (fill in any president or town name here) Middle School or Junior High that test our ability to let go. . .
. . . To let go not only of that hand we have held for the past 6 years, but of our own demons from this, at best awkward, at worst painful, time in our own lives.
I feel incredibly fortunate that my daughter has earned her way into an all girls middle school where the focus is on self-esteem and empowerment. And, as the head of school said after hearing our nervous laughter when he asked us to recount our middle school memories, “We are here to reclaim the middle school experience for everyone, students and parents.”
I’m ready to see these years in a whole new way. Here’ to all of our back-to-school journeys… may they be inspired by love of your child, yourself, or the beauty of learning.