Monday, August 7, 2017

What I Will Tell My Child About Junior High

The Headlines:

We all remember Junior High sucks.

Can it ever be good?

It can.

I sit here quietly in my home for the first time in months.  Summer is over and the kids are back in school.  But this year is different.  This year my daughter starts Junior High.

She's a 6th grader.  Back in my time, when I went to JUNIOR HIGH it didn't start until 7th grade.  I'm not sure what's better but that's not the point.  Here's the point: we're at the point of no return.  It's big time from here on out.  Life is no longer as simple as it once was... and she knows it.

The other day she said, I kid you not:

"I think when I was "little-er" things were more fun.  Now everyone's on their phone."  

WOW.  As I listened to her make that slightly profound statement I may have been texting someone.  That's a whole other subject we should delve into but for now... she's right.  And it's not changing anytime soon.  Because with a locker, no recess, algebra and lunch time tutoring comes a whole lot more.  Stuff they can't really teach you at the best school... like hormones, relationships, "mean" girls, make-up and yes everything that comes with that darn phone.

So what do you tell your child?  I say this:  Junior High is tough.  Ask anyone.  You will not get out unscathed.  Because everyone has something.  The prettiest girl gets a pimple.  The smartest boy blows a major test.  The mean one gets bullied.  Make-up runs.  Pick 6's happen.  People say awful things.  It is complicated, it's difficult and it can be down right devestating at times.  But you will get through it.  Right alongside the rest of your friends.  You all will be going through the same kind of crappy stuff together.  You can trust that.

But while there will be many bad things that happen... there will also be bright spots.  

You will ace a test you studied for.  The girl or boy you smile at will smile back (even if it's just on the inside).  Your team will win.  You will walk into a room one day and everyone will turn.  Your birthday will be big.  You will meet a best friend.  Someone will vote for you.  You will be a part of a group/club/sport that matters.  People will laugh at your joke.  You will get a compliment.  All these things will happen... just not at once.  Everyday you will not hit the jackpot - but that will make the winning days even sweeter.

I tell my daughter she has to be strong.  And on the days she's not, her father and I will be strong for her.  I remind her that she can lean on good friends but that she needs to let them lean right back.  I want her to know if she's helping others more she may care about herself a little less.  I assure her tears will come and she can grab a tissue or even better yet.. someone may hand her one.

Because even though Junior High may feel like the end of the world... it's just the beginning.

No, I'm not a psychologist or a counselor, I'm not a doctor or teacher of any kind.  But I am a mother who remembers being in Junior High, like all of us were at one point.  It was exactly all of the things I mentioned above and more.  It doesn't make me an expert but it does qualify me to remind my pre-teen, we've all been there.  While it feels super big - it's just a moment in time - and everyone's standing in that moment with her.

Junior High will not define her... but it will begin to refine her.  She just needs to remember to toss the phone aside.  Here and there.

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