Sunday, August 9, 2015

Stuck in the Middle with You

In just over a week, my sweet girl will be heading off for 5th grade. Middle School. A new frontier. A new chapter. And one notoriously fraught with academic challenges, peer pressure, girl bullies and acne. I'd like someone to tell me that they had a great middle school experience. Of all my friends, we unanimously recounted stories of going through hideously unflattering growth spurts, being at our absolute most awkward, and just having a general, overwhelming feeling of not knowing where we fit in or where we stood. I pray that things have changed for the better and that my girl will avoid some of this. Or maybe I don't. It didn't kill me so, per the pearl of wisdom, it made me stronger, right? And who wants to peak in middle school? Maybe it's just a rite of passage. Regardless, I pray that it's as smooth as possible for my baby girl.

I want her to learn to say “no” and also to hear “no.” I want her to learn to be a good friend and a good person and a good student. I want her to spread her wings, even if she's destined to spiral to the ground a few times. I want her to give it her absolute best, her all, and then know the disappointment when she learns it still wasn't enough. I guess I want her to know the feeling of liking someone more than they like her. I want her to know the feeling of being left out so it's harder for her to leave others out. I want her to fall and I want her to think that anyone who says, “it's not how many times you fall, but how many times you get up that counts” is a jackhole. I want all of these things for her...just not all in the same day, as I feel I experienced some of them. That, to me, is what Middle School is. One, big, awful learning experience. And, looking back, math, and history and English were but a small part of the education I received. The rest were practical, sometimes awful, life lessons. The kinds you're not tested on immediately. It's the kind you can't study for and that you don't really know it's happening until it's over. Sometimes a day. Sometimes a decade.

I lost a lot of things – just things, but things all the same – when my Dad's house caught fire in 2010. Want to relive that? Check out this old blog post. I lost my wedding dress. My Mom's wedding dress. Most of my childhood pictures. And almost all of my yearbooks. But you know one I have? Yep. 5th grade. So, in thinking about this new journey my girl is about to undertake, I took a little stroll down memory lane. Won't you come with me?

I won't start a whole thing here. Suffice it to say, we're now the Panthers.

In my day, we carried and used books and pencils and paper. Now, it's all iPad.
I wonder if lockers and backpacks will be replaced with charging stations?

Hopefully, the hair will be better. It can't be much worse. Wings, mullets and hairspray? Oh, my!

Girls Basketball shorts have gotten longer...

...but these volleyball shorts are darn near capri pants compared to today's v-ball shorts.
Have you seen them? Of course you haven't. 
They're non-existent! Boys wresting onesies cover more.

This was the school's first computer club. Now, we don't even have a computer club. That's how far we've come. I'm guessing they thought these monstrosities and the floppy disks were really fancy typewriters and these kids could probably not imagine that in a mere 30 years, every student, from little bitty to seniors would be doing all of their work on one of these that they carry in their hand.

Not to sound like Donald Trump, but he's right. You can't sneeze nowadays without offending someone.  I liked that we held mock elections during the presidential race, complete with signs and masks, and hope that we will continue to teach our kids about government and the importance of voting.

Something I'm glad hasn't changed and hope never will is our school's tradition of Spiritual Emphasis Week. It's a week dedicated to bringing in Christian singers, entertainers and speakers and turning more of our focus to Christ. We're a college prep school with an inclusive Christian environment all year 'round. This means students and teachers can pray, hold devotions, the kids have daily chapel, read the Bible, and you can talk about your faith in an open and safe forum. They say the Pledge of Allegiance every day and you'd better believe they say "one nation under God." But during this week, even more focus is turned to this facet of the kids' education. In my day, we had "new" singers like Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant.

So, baby girl, I wish you the very best in Middle School. There will be bumps. That is the truth. I just pray you learn to dust yourself off and get back in there.