Friday, December 15, 2017

Middle School Sucks

November 28, 2017

One time, I wrote a post (or two) about the hard time Lucy was having at school
My friend Kaitlyn Arsenault sent me a message full of love, kind words and encouragement for Lucy and for me
Her oldest daughter is in middle school and just got hit in the face again with the middle school blues...and by blues I mean drama
Remember middle school folks?
Puberty starts to hit, the girls get meaner, the boys you used to play in the sandbox with become objects of your affection and the social ladder is as fierce as the bygone Social Register (a juggernaut in old New York social circles)
I wish I had words of wisdom for Bella and words of comfort for her Mom but I don't
I mean I have words, I always have words
I'm just not sure how much wisdom and comfort are in them
But I wrote this, Kaitlyn, to Bella in hopes of it making her laugh a little and realizing this rite of passage called middle school is something we have all gone through
And it sucks, and it is shitty (don't tell Bella I said shitty) but she will get through it and it will get better.......
Also, I apparently still have some built up angst about my Jr High and High School days so this has been good for me
Dear Bella:
Heard some kids at middle school are not being so cool
I believe the words I heard were nasty and mean - yuck!
Nasty and mean is like the worst combination ever
And if anyone knows bad combinations, it's me:
I eat peanut butter and pickle sandwiches which makes most people dry heave
I also like lemon curd on Triscuts
And ketchup in my mac and cheese
And I dump my Junior Mints in my popcorn at the movie theater
But nasty and mean - that is the worst combination ever
I'm sorry this is happening and that nasty and mean are already part of your world
I mean they should never be part of anyone's world but sadly, they are
When I was in 6th grade, three girls decided they no longer liked me
One of them had been my friend all through grade school and I never told a soul she still wet the bed in 4th grade
I also never told anyone she struggled with reading and math, I just helped her
The second girl moved to our town at the end of grade school
She lived with her Mum and her new step-dad
No one really talked to her at first because she had a funny Southern accent which the kids teased her about
I didn't tease her though, I liked her accent
So, I invited her to play with me at recess and come to my house after school
I even introduced to the other girl (the bed wetter)
The third girl, well, when I think about it, she was always mean
She may or may not have been born that way...bless her heart
They started making fun of me as soon as we started 6th grade about all kinds of things:
I was chubby and wore glasses
I wore high top Converse sneakers....even with my skirts
My hair was just plain old brown and I kept it cut short and did not curl it or wear bows or ribbons
I was lucky if I remembered to brush it
They made fun of me for coming from a big family (1 boy, 6 girls)
And because I did not have my own room or my own bike but had to share with two of my five sisters (the bike and the room)
They made fun of me because I was smart
And because I won the Science Fair and the Civic Oration speech contest
Because I was Student Council President and acted in the school plays
And I was a "teacher's pet"
Then they started playing jokes on me:
When I started my period, they found the pads in my bag, peeled off the strips and stuck them to the wall of the bathroom with my name written on them in red marker
Another time, they wrote a note from a boy I liked and put it in my bag
I thought it was from him and I wrote back
This went on for a few days
Then they hung the notes up in the bathroom
(in my day, the bathroom wall was social media)
They would have sleepovers then prank call my house or tell me on Monday how much fun they had without me
Once time, they showed up at my house and invited me outside to hang out
I was so excited
I thought things were finally turning around!
I rushed to change into what I thought was my coolest outfit... I was after all trying to make an impression
So I donned my grey Mickey Mouse T Shirt with a pair of black, orange and yellow checkered pants with suspender straps attached to the pants
Then, slipped on all my gummy bracelets and of course, my Chucks on my feet
(it was the 80s folks, please do not judge)
When I got outside, the first two girls held me down while girl number 3 pummeled me with punches
They never said a word, just grabbed me and started beating me up
I never wore that outfit again and I never told anyone about the mean stuff they did
I was ashamed and embarrassed
It still makes me sad to think about it
One time I tried to tell a teacher what they were doing and she was shocked to think these three girls would behave in such a manner
Two of them were, after all, cheerleaders and the third was a star athlete
And they were so popular with all the kids said the teacher
Are you sure you are not just being sensitive? Or are you maybe jealous of them...?
Sure, maybe I was jealous - who would not want to be thin and have gorgeous hair and the coolest clothes?
And, have a boyfriend who was in 8th grade while you were in 6th grade?!
But did my apparent jealousy make it ok for them to behave the way they did?
No, no it did not
Still doesn't
And sensitive?
We're all sensitive - getting made fun of or picked on or being the butt of a mean joke hurts everyone's feelings
That is not being sensitive - that is called having feelings
And it is alright to have feelings - you can't navigate this world without them
So I cried
I wrote in my diary
I listened to sad songs and talked to my posters of Tom Cruise (in my defense, this was before he got all creepy with Katie)
And in an attempt to make myself feel better, I made fun of a couple people like I was made fun of
But then I realized making fun of others felt worse then being made fun of
So I did what any young girl struggling with puberty and navigating the shitty (don't tell your Mom I said shitty to you)
rite of passage that is middle school does:
I ignored them as best I could and did my own damn thing
Took me some time to get there but I realized if I ignored the mean girls, kind of like I ignored one of my sisters when she was annoying me, they might eventually get bored with me and give up
So, I did stuff I liked and did not give a shit what they thought which included:
studying hard and getting good grades
Winning Civic Oration three years in a row
Placing at the Science Fair
Trying out for and making the basketball team ( I wasn't the most talented player but I knew the game and the plays better than anyone...including the star player who beat me up!)
Trying out and making the softball team and being pretty darn good (better than the star athlete who beat me up!)
I was in the school plays and on student council and loved every minute of it
I hung out with the school secretary and the teachers because they "got" me
And I always befriended the new kid because it sucks being the new kid
Also, I went out of my way to be nice to kids with glasses because nothing says hit me on the back of the head with a wadded up ball of paper and gum on the bus like wearing glasses
But here's the thing Bella, I made it, I got through it
I made it out of middle school and then high school despite all the drama and mean girls and pranks and bullying
Don't get me was not easy
There were still tears and hurt feelings and days where I just could not figure out what I was doing wrong to make these girls hate me
But then, all of a sudden, there were more days without tears and without my feelings being hurt then there were days with tears and hurt feelings
Not because they stopped being mean - once a mean girl, always a mean girl
But because because I stopped caring what they thought about me
Because I found people who liked me for me
They liked me for who and what I was:
a chubby eyeglass wearing over achiever who loved basketball and knew the game but couldn't play for shit but, was pretty stinking good at softball
I was a theater geek with no musical talent who still some how managed to land parts (including the lead!) in the school play
I got good grades and was active in Key Club and National Honor Society and Student Council
I could quote passages from movies, knew the lyrics to all the songs on the radio but, I could also quote poetry and the Great Gatsby and Greek Mythology
I had friends older than me, younger than me, richer than me and poorer than me
I was a wise ass who loved playing jokes on my friends (not mean jokes, jokes like hiding in the back seat of the car and then scaring the hell outta them.....or coloring their face with a marker when they fell asleep)
By the way, I am still pretty much that person today
But now I pay taxes, have a college degree, a job, a husband, a daughter and I can vote
Side note and PSA: Always vote Bella ! And always serve when you are called for Jury Duty - both are your civic duty, responsibility and right
I am surrounded my people who appreciate me and all my imperfections and flaws because they see the person I am deep down inside
They know I make mistakes and they forgive me
They know sometimes I pop off and speak before I think - but they appreciate I can admit I was wrong and gracefully accept my apology
They laugh at my self deprecation wit and humor but remind me
I'm better than I give myself credit for
And they accept and love my husband and daughter
They know Lucy's struggles and don't judge us for them but instead, love us even more fiercely
And, they don't mind Sean's weird British ways and accent
And those my dear are true friends
But back to middle school and high school
I found people who liked me for me
More importantly, I learned to like me for me
I mean I know I still got made fun of behind my back but, Bella, by then I stopped giving a fuck (don't tell your Mom I said fuck) and started enjoying the people who wanted to be a part of my life and stopped caring about the people whose life I wanted to be a part of...does that make sense?
Middle school sucks kiddo- I won't candy coat it - and sometimes high school will be worse
You will have shitty days
Your feelings will get hurt and you will cry
But you will be ok
Let your feelings get hurt
Cry if you need to
Be mad, be sad
Scream, yell, drop and 'eff bomb or two
Do whatever you have to do to get those emotions out
But I promise you this Bella - you will be ok!
I know this because you are surrounded by an incredible large and loving family
Your Mum and Dad, your sisters, your extended family - they will be your anchors, your North Star
Never lose sight of them
And never forget their love for you is unconditional
No matter how mad you get at your sisters (or they at you) no matter how annoying you may one day find your parents to be, they will always be there for you
Stay tight with The Father The Son and The Holy Ghost - - in your darkest hours, they too will be there for you and are always just a prayer away
And know that there are people out there, like me, rooting for you
They probably swear less than I do and are far more appropriate in their word choice than I am but still, I'm in your corner
I can't do anything to help you Bella
You have to do it - and I know you can and will
But I can acknowledge your feelings and I can give you words of comfort and encouragement .... and let you know I'm cheering for you, praying for you and hoping for you
And Bella, I want you to know I am doing my best as a parent to raise my daughter to be nice, to choose kind, to be respectful and to be the kind of friend she wants to have
I think if more of us could be kind, be respectful and be the kind of friend we want to have, the world, and middle school, would be a better place
I also think we should have ice cream sundae bar on the school menu once a month at lunch time because ice cream always makes everyone happy .... so take what I say with a grain of salt!
Hang in there kiddo
You will be ok.....It gets better......
Just keep being you ...
With love and hugs and girl power galore,

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