Middle School, and Other Harrowing Visions of the Future

The other day we were swinging on the tree swing and I started talking about M starting middle school.

“Middle school!” I wailed. “Can you believe it? And after that, it’s high school! And after that, it’s college and . . .”

“And I’m out of the house and free of you!” says M.

“And I get time without M, yay!” says J.

“. . . And I was going to say that I’m free of you,” I say. “But I’m appreciating all of this beautiful family love right now. This is very touching.”

“Don’t worry, Mom,” M says. “I’ll probably just go to college and then I’ll come back to live with you again!”

“No, you won’t!” I say.

“No, I won’t,” M agrees.

“Don’t worry,” says J. “Someone will have bitten her bait by then.”

Excuse me? What did you say?” I’m momentarily stunned.

“I said, ‘Someone will have bitten her bait by then,'” says J.

“And what, exactly, do you mean by that?” I ask.

“You know, like plenty of fish in the sea,” J explains.

“Yeah,” M agrees. “I’ll just marry a millionaire and then divorce him and then I’ll be rich.”

“PLEASE!! You’re killing me here. Why don’t you say that you’re going to be an entrepreneur who starts a business that makes you a millionaire? Seriously! Where’s your self-respect?”

– – – – –

Since that conversation I’ve been mollified somewhat because M, sorting through old papers, discovered that the old President’s Physical Fitness test the school’s been using has different, easier standards for schools. She wanted to know whom, exactly, to blame for this travesty, and in figuring that out I learned that apparently that system is going out for the K-12 set, anyway. Huh. Who knew?

Speaking of school, M continues to be unbelievably excited for middle school. So are most of her friends. It’s comical because they’ll tell adults how unbelievably excited they are and the adults smile and nod and then murmur to each other that it’s too bad that none of these children have any idea what they’re getting into. I mean, middle school is hardly anyone’s very happiest life period.

I’ve been trying to come up with pre-middle school words of wisdom for M. Actually, over the weekend, my sister and brother-in-law were talking about my nephew’s surprisingly mature advice to his little sister about starting middle school. This kid is unbelievably with-it, self-motivated, and, not that it matters to grown-ups, but he’s also popular at school. Apparently he went on and on about how his sister should “plant her garden” by being friendly and open with everyone she meets, because even if she finds some girl annoying, that girl might be the only classmate she knows in one class, and so she may as well try to make every relationship as positive and friendly as possible. After hearing about that, when I had M and the cousins all in one room, I asked if he had any advice, and it was a colossal fail. First, the younger sister said, “What about me? I’m in middle school, too! Don’t you think I have any advice?” And the older-and-wiser cousin said, “No, I don’t have any advice.” And then the younger one said, “Avoid the annoying girls.” Sigh.

So far I’ve advised M to:

  • Be cautious with social media;
  • Be prepared for friends to re-shuffle and try to ensure that there are always 2 or 3 tables where she’d feel comfortable sitting at lunch;
  • Be ask kind as possible when you feel like you have to end friendships, and try to remember that  if someone dumps you, it’s her issue, not yours; and
  • Use her social clout for Good instead of Evil.

I feel, vaguely, like I should give her a little what-happens-if-your-period-starts-at-school as well as more proactive negotiating-type advice from the Queen Bees and Wannabees book, but I’m sure that both topics will make her hide her head under a pillow and moan, so I might procrastinate until those issues seem more . . . imminent.

Any thoughts, oh parents and teachers of those adolescent and over? Other good advice? Should I foist more pearls of wisdom on her, generally butter her up with mother-daughter outings in a desperate attempt to keep communication open, or just sit back and wait to swoop in and pick up the pieces as necessary? Or just resign myself that she’ll tell me nothing, and then I’ll hear all the interesting stuff secondhand a few weeks later? Ugh, I hate that. By the way, I’ve been doing an awesome job at not sharing my gossip with M. Which has been tough, because I’ve heard some interesting stuff.




  1. Carol Jones

    No advice for M but some for you that got me through middle school with E at BRMS, pick your battles carefully and don’t sweat the small stuff.

  2. Big Sister

    How about: Make sure your skirt isn’t tucked into your girdle when you return to class from the restroom?…Oh, that’s right, nobody in their RIGHT MIND sends middle school girls to school in a girdle anymore. Phew. So I guess make sure you leave the ladies’ with what’s meant to stay inside, inside!. Smooth sailing for M I am sure!

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