Goodbye middle school
Today marks Margaret’s last day of middle school. Honestly, I couldn’t be happier.
Yes, I’m happy because I no longer have to get up early in the morning and make breakfasts and lunches for Mar and Bill (and myself). But there’s a more to it. Middle school is a trial … for everyone involved.
Margaret went to a great school academically, but the social aspect of the past three years has really taken a toll. She’s has so many successes and was supported by many, really great teachers. But, she also let herself be dragged down by the comments and treatment of her peers.
It was painful to watch. Of course, as we lived through the past three years, I was reminded over and over again about my middle-school years. I kept telling Margaret that at least she’s super cute and doesn't have stupid hair and clothes (I made some really poor choices about hair and fashion for … oh, pretty much my whole life …).
But, the fact remains that teenage girls (and many women) feel good about themselves by dragging others down. It’s like a sport from which many would have won gold medals.
I’m not one of those parents who thinks their child is perfect and everyone else is terrible. I am intimately aware of the harsher side of my daughter’s personality. But, it was so hard to watch her get mired in the mud of negativity and hateful games.
I watched her close herself off and become resentful of pretty much everyone. I kept trying to tell her that the drama associated with middle school would go on to have very little impact on the rest of her life. But what good consolation is that when she’s being pummeled by the slings and arrows of her peers?
The most disappointing element of Mar’s middle school experience was the browbeating she suffered due to her beliefs. She was told numerous times that she was going to hell because she’s not a Christian; she was told she was stupid for being a vegetarian and not a fan of hunting; she was even derided because I drive a hybrid instead of a pick-up truck (what does my car matter to a bunch of young teens anyway? Sheesh).
I kept thinking that if she would just kept those things to herself, she would have been better off. But those other kids who wear their religion and meat-eating like a battering ram are never expected to keep quiet, are they?
Part of me wished we had not moved three years ago and Margaret would have continued going to school with kids whose parents picked them up from school in pajamas every day and she was often praised by her teachers for being clean, well-prepared and ready to learn. Very few would have given a shit if she were eating lintel soup for lunch instead of bologna sandwiches.
But then I look at the opportunities she has had and hope the trade off was enough. She was challenged academically in a way that will be good for her as she heads off to high school and then college. That alone is huge (I cannot thank her teachers enough). She flourished under her wonderful choir instructor and developed a love and talent for music that sends me spinning in delight. She got to go to Europe. Those things should make it all worth it, shouldn’t it?
I hope so.
So, if you see me running around flipping off the middle school, it’s not directed at the hard-working, undervalued, underpaid education professionals who dedicate their careers to helping these young teens on their path to adulthood. No, instead I’m sending my dislike to the institution that forces young teens together into daily situations that allows them to torture each other with their only-partially-formed ideas and thoughts on how they and everyone else should see and act in this world of ours.
Oh, middle school, I’m so glad we’re done with you.