middle school, the second time around.
do you remember middle school? or junior high? or, as the town fathers called it in my hometown, intermediate school? that period of time that probably ought to be called the bataan death march through puberty? those years when you were sure that everyone noticed the pimple on your face, and you could tell by the whispers that it was the best topic ever amongst the other kids since john snapped jane’s bra in the cafeteria? those years when you were thrown together with kids from all over town, some of whom displayed manners which indicated that their parents apparently were attila the hun and mata hari?
well, now that BC is embroiled in the magical world of middle school, it is, as leo durocher once said, deja vu all over again.
it’s hard to look on to the scene without wanting to scream. or intervene. or just completely become dissembled. each day, i hear the stories: the locker partner who has taken over the locker and who won’t listen to reason. the mean girls at lunch. the teacher who doesn’t seem to care that you cannot see the board and who has no time to discuss the matter with you. and it goes on.
i have been trying to let the girl fight her own battles. i cannot step in forever, deus ex mama that i am. but i’m beginning to think that 6th grade isn’t the time for the girl to be on her own. i’ve told her that she needs to give it a try first, but if she gets no satisfaction or response, then she needs to tell me what’s going on so that i can join her chorus. but how can she talk to her teachers when there’s no time at class’s start or end and the teacher will not entertain questions during class time? how will she handle some of these girls, who mistakenly believe they are richer and prettier and better than she is?
so here’s my problem. i am now, ehhem, a 21 year old mom who doesn’t possess the same fears that i did when i was a girl of a certain age. my advice now probably is lacking a certain, oh, how do you say, subtlety. a seat was empty at the lunch table, and BC sat down at it. the Queen Bee of All Queen Bees made it a point to walk over from where she was and tell BC to get her ass up off the table and move — that was HER seat. BC, being a sensible little thang, told her that she wasn’t sitting there, so what was the problem? the problem, according to the bigger Miss Thang, was that it was where she would normally sit.
(i know. the logic of 12 year old girls has always eluded me. even when i was 12, just 9 short years ago…)
so BC looked around, saw that two of her friends were sitting elsewhere, and got up and moved.
now, WWWD? (translation: what would wreke do?) if i had been a 12 year old with the mind of a more experienced me, i, of course, would have politely told the queen bee that she’d better leave me alone. pissing me off is not an option. if she wanted to pursue it further, well, i would gladly do so in a way that she would probably always remember. see, even in my imagined younger state, i am no longer intimidated by 12 year old girls, the likes of whom think they’re fierce just because they shop at Justice.
honey: fierce is a perimenopausal woman who hasn’t slept since 1998, who has not yet had her morning coffee, and who has just about lost her patience for the petty bullshit that passes for social intercourse among tweens.
fortunately, BC followed her own advice and not mine. i suspect by doing so, she will not be ostracized in the cafeteria, at least not this week.
in other news, you think i’m projecting my own delightful middle school experiences on the situation much? mmm, mebbe.
so my new goal: try to erase from my psyche those memories of social-climbing, back-stabbing, and nasty people who won’t listen to you and who treat you as if you are invisible. all the things that made intermediate school so very, very memorable. for no matter how you slice it, middle school is an awful holding pen for the angsty pubescent kids and the teachers who loathe them. ’tis a timeless situation. and it’s time for the girl to make her own memories out of her own fresh hell.
i just need to shut up and cheer her on.