I took a tour of my junior high today in preparation for Special K going there next year. As I walked through the lunchroom a whole slew of emotions and memories came flooding back to me. I was as awkward as awkward could be in junior high and I wasn't the only one who knew it. Yet looking at the kids giving tours there tonight, they 1. look younger than I remember 7th and 8th graders being when I was in 6th grade. 2. had so much ownership of their classrooms and so much knowledge of the school itself, it was impressive. And 3. seem to be more respectable kids than I remember kids being when I was 11-13 years old. They were quiet and responsible and even used the word responsible several times on the tour. I don't remember being that grown-up in junior high.
However, hindsight does tell a different story. What I remember may not be what actually was.
A little over a month ago my ultimate junior high crush came into work. He recognized me and I him. And I giggled to myself during our interaction because the awkward 12 year old inside me was nervous to talk to him and was stunned that he even knew who I was. But the actual 32 year old me slapped some tape on the 12 year old's mouth and turned around with his coffee and a "Good to see you! How's life?" (Which in actuality is a dumb question to someone you haven't seen in years and years. Here, let me sum up the last 20 years of my life for you in a 3 minute interaction when we both know neither of us really care.) But just like the walk through the lunchroom this evening, the emotions associated with him left me a tad speechless in a jumble of memories.
I was made fun of for wearing a Homer Hanky in my hair during the '91 World Series (I can tell you though that those bullies were eating their words when the Twins won.) A kid who was neither nice nor a gem to look at called me Misery Woman because he thought I looked like Kathy Bates in the movie Misery. I tripped up the stairs once after lunch and it was brought up for weeks after every lunch period by the same kid and loudly too. I farted once in Spanish class and it took a solid couple of minutes for the teacher to get the class back on track. I had crush after crush and was not crushable to anyone else.
Not that anyone else had a better or worse experience. Junior high sucked for many then and it probably does now for many others. But what I noticed tonight is that the kids seemed kinder (more kind?), more respectable of each other and their surroundings, more willing to learn. The school also seems to be open to different learning styles and more exciting classes than just math, English, history. There was a technology class, a civil rights class, a class that is just to help those that need extra reading attention, and all sorts of after school activities; a book club, arts and crafts, a ski club. It really made me want to go back to school.
I'm excited for K to start next year. It's going to be so fun to watch her come into her own at this school. And to remember what it was like when I was there. And to watch her attitude grow, I believe if you ask my mom I wasn't that perfect as a junior higher. I know now why my mom chaperoned my junior high dance with a sweatshirt that had the words "Body by God" printed on it, because I over-reacted so dramatically that it was fun to egg me on. I get it now, Mom. Well played.
Huh, junior high. What a messed up time that can mold us all so well.