This has been a spectacularly difficult Advent season. Though I even question myself saying that, quaking in fear of tempting the forces that run everything behind our however many dimensional computer screen that we mistake for reality. Run on sentences aside – I’m truncating my Advent series this year, even at the risk of being inundated with more e-mails and letters asking why. I will not bore you with the gruesome details, as it is the holidays and one is expected to always be merry and bright. I will offer up my last submission in my Advent series on those who overcome remarkable obstacles and continue to live on bravely.
Which brings us to the Middle Schooler. Back in the day, not all that long ago, Middle School was called Jr. High and ran from 7th grade to 9th grade. Now it’s called “Middle School” and often starts at 6th grade to 8th grade. Apparently we are moving back to the year 1212, when we would shove our kids out the door at the age of 8 or so, expect them to get a job and an apartment and then off to the Crusades. Good for us!
Many parents will compare their childrens lives to their own and judge their kids to have the cushy, soft life! Their parents’ versions of “I walked 5 miles through two feet of snow in winter to get to school!! And then had no lunch because school bullies stole it after blacking my eye!!” has now turned in to “I never had an iPod or cell phone to text my friends all the time! I had to write my homework in cursive!!!” All ignoring some glaring differences –
~Not so very long ago, kids of all ages used to be able to go to a mystical land called “Outdoors” and play games of their own choosing for hours on end.
~Not so very long ago, one’s entrance into a place of higher learning was dependent solely on one’s 12th grade GPA and passing of a magical exam called SAT
~Not so very long ago, one was not expected to return daily to one’s place of learning with a 45 pound backpack and a wheelbarrow piled high with computer printed papers full of Algebra, History, Science, Spanish, English, Essays, Power Points, Excel spreadsheets and papers signed by parents acknowledging receipt of same.
Then, today’s Middle Schooler’s have to listen to how easy they have it, after hearing their parents muse “Wow, I never had this much work as a kid.” “Yeah, I used to spend afternoons playing with my friends.” So nice to hear while looking at a three foot pile of a daily demand.
Then they have to stay up all hours, after participating in the required sport that will get them a favorable view by potential high schools and colleges, only to be awakened in the wee-est of hours to arrive on time for their 7:30 or 8:00 start time of the next day.
And then they must negotiate the hormone wars of their classmates! Johnny likes Susie “hee hee heee”….”But let’s not invite Mary to the party and see what she does” “bwaha ha”…….”Ewwwwwww, you are so gross….” etc. etc. This part has not changed in thousands of years of human development. It’s part of the hardwired rite of passage of this age. But with today’s kids it’s amplified by technology, like Facebook and Twitter, which biochemically increases the concentrated effect of hormonal moods exponentially. What fun.
And still, they move on. Bravely enduring asinine parents and technological gut punches. Dodging and weaving through the school’s expectations of “BE INDEPENDENT!! GROW UP!! WE WILL HUMILIATE YOU UNTIL YOU DOOOOOOO!!!!” More fun than an afternoon of Ms. PacMan.
Then, you talk to them and listen to how erudite they are. How intelligent they are. How they have really good ideas for the planet. How they treat each other with equal regard, when push comes to shove. OK, fine, maybe not all of them. But a lot more than when I was an idiot Jr. Higher. Oops, sorry, hons, Middle Schooler. And hopefully they will survive in spite of our idiocy, with a little frontal lobe left intact.
Happy Holidays, you middle schoolers! For your gift this year I wish for you a large dose of intelligent, compassionate awareness to dawn in the minds of your parents and educators. Because when I am 85 and need that hip replacement, you are going to be the one holding the “approved” and “disapproved” stamp.