Tuesday, August 30, 2011

First Day of Middle School

Today is my middle child's first day of middle school. Is he concerned? Nah, not really. Probably not nearly as much as he should be. I took a look at his teachers' websites, and he'll already have plenty of homework tonight. I'm glad he's not stressing, though, since I made my own experience transitioning from elementary to middle way worse than it should have been.

The night before I started middle school (which we called jr. high school back in the olden days), I couldn't sleep I was so nervous. Plagued by haunting, supposedly true stories of seventh graders being dumped head first into trash cans and nasty pranks involving ink bombs, I was terrified. And then there were those scary eighth graders. If fifth grade had been a breeze, I wouldn't have had any concerns about these kids who were a mere year older than us, but it wasn't.

Probably due to an unfortunate short haircut coupled with typical female pubescent weight gain, I wasn't the best looking child as a ten year old. Really, if I'd been a boy, there wouldn't have been a problem, since adults kept referring to me as "this nice young man," etc., at the time. Anyway, there was a group of about ten sixth grade boys who teased me relentlessly that year. Sixth grade was a huge relief, since they'd all graduated to Oak Crest, our local jr. high. But when it was my turn to go to Oak Crest, I knew they were all there, waiting to make fun of me again.

Luckily, I grew my hair out in sixth grade. And I started watching how much food I stuffed into my mouth. At 5'2" and 105 pounds, a size 5 going into seventh grade, I now realize I shouldn't have been so paranoid about what others would think of my size. And guess what? At the bus stop, where many of those horrible, teasing boys shared my same stop, they didn't say a word to me. But then, it was probably my hair that threw them--I've always been a bit of a hair chameleon, looking like a completely different person whenever I change it.

So I made it through the bus ride, the first major jr. high hurdle. But what if I couldn't remember my locker combinations? What if someone still threw me into a trash can? What if a pack of gang girls jumped me in the bathroom? What if I was late to all my classes because I couldn't find them?

All that stress, when what I really should have been thinking about was to remember to bring a pencil. Sure, I had notebooks, but nothing to write in them with. And who better to point this out than my scary first period Honors Pre-Algebra teacher, a booming hulk of a guy who had an affinity for calling his students "boob" when he thought we were acting stupid. I think the first thing he said to us that morning was something like, "All right. Which of you boobs forgot to bring a pencil?" And then I had to raise my hand. At least four other kids raised their hands, which made me feel better, since we were supposed to be the "smart" kids and all.

The rest of the day, I dealt with one little horrorshow at a time. That funky, 1950s era school smell (asbestos?). The boy who couldn't stop saying, "Poop in a basket!" then giggling like Beavis and Butt-Head. Having to make a song I kept chanting in my head all day to remember both my locker combinations, so much so that when my friends said hi to me, I almost blurted out, "24-40-34!" or "34-36-2!"

So, yeah. I got through it, and I know my son will, too. I just hope the principal (and the assistant principal, and his learning center teacher) don't wind up calling me today. Already.


Suzanne Casamento said...

I'm kind of traumatized by this post! I feel sorry for Little Ara. ;)

Ara Burklund said...

Aw, thanks, Suzanne. I think pretty much all writers have some sort of monster crap suitcase tucked away in the closet.

Teri Lee said...

Why did I have no idea you were being teased like this? I guess I was wrapped up in my own body-image-mean-boy drama. Boy, you sure brought back a lot of memories. For what it's worth, I had the same locker-combination and forgotten-pencil experience. Ah, and Mr. Scannel - the first person in my life to convince me that yeah, I CAN do math! It got to the point I didn't mind being called a boob at all.

Do you know what I remember most about my first day? 1) Starting my period and being unprepared and 2) Being stung by a bee at lunchtime.

I sure was lucky to have you for a friend during those years. xoxox

Teri Lee said...


Ara Burklund said...

Ha! Too funny that you knew exactly which math teacher I was talking about! I had no idea you started your period that first day!!! Vaguely remember the bee sting, though. I was lucky to have you as a friend, Teri! xoxo