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My older son has his first day of middle school tomorrow. It’s a pretty momentous occasion in my book. He has a schedule and different teachers for every subject. Communication between parents and teachers won’t be as prevalent as it was in elementary school (no more Monday Letters or Folders). I’m excited for him, a little bit nervous, and a tiny bit scared. Everyone talks about how horrible middle school was. All those crazy hormones flying around. Children wanting more independence and parents unsure how much to allow. Mean girls. Bullies. Terrible teachers. It’s amazing any of us ever made it to high school!

And don’t get me started on the horrors brought about by misuse of  cell phones and social media – ugh.

Anyway, I personally enjoyed middle school. Yes, I know I’m a geek. But I loved reading actual books in English class, performing science experiments, and more challenging math classes. I also enjoyed going to electives. Well, not  gym – I always hated gym. In Middle School we also had art, Home Economics, and Industrial Arts. I remember going to music as well – chorus and orchestra – but not everyone participated in those.

I loved Home Economics (Home Ec.) and Industrial Arts (I.A.). These were so very different from art. In art they made me draw and I cannot draw at all. In fact I am so bad that every year I have to teach my Kindergarteners that it is not polite to laugh at my drawings.

In I.A. we manipulated wood through a jigsaw to make a bread board.  We heated and twisted iron to form a plant hanger.
And we melted and cut different colored plastic into things like a napkin holder and a pie server. Almost 30 years later the plant hanger holds a plant outside my parents’ house and the napkin holder still holds napkins in their kitchen. Occasionally the pie server is brought out, but I made the point so sharp my parents considered it to be more of lethal weapon than serving utensil.

In Home Ec. I learned to sew and cook – things my working mom didn’t have time to teach me. And while my mother could sew fairly well, I was probably better off not learning how to cook from her. The favorite Home Ec. recipe was monkey bread. I can smell the cinnamon wafting down the hall even as I type. Everyone who had Home Ec was popular on monkey bread day. Who knew that small balls of dough dipped in butter and rolled in cinnamon sugar could get the cute boy from math class to notice you? Even if it was only for a bite of monkey bread – when you’re 12 who cares!

I’m sure there were mean girls and bullies galore, but for the most part I was able to avoid them. I don’t know how. Probably because I was so shy and quiet back then most kids didn’t even realize I was there. I never aspired to be part of The Clique and therefore never suffered from ridicule and rejection when they didn’t want me. When I looked at who the cool girls were – they weren’t people I wanted as friends. I know this is the 42 year old me projecting back on 12 year old me, but it’s true. I had one or two friends and that was all I needed.

So on this eve of Middle School I have many hopes for my son:

I hope he maintains his strong sense of self, his courage, and his compassion.

I hope he finds a trusted group of friends.

I hope he keeps his wits about him.

I hope he laughs every day.

I hope he uses his sense of humor for good not evil.

I hope he enjoys the academic challenges and independence.

I hope he loves learning for learning’s sake.

I hope he finds that which brings him joy in life.

I hope he is never bullied or is a bully.

More importantly

I hope he stands up for those who are bullied.

Finally, I hope he finds the monkey bread of middle school.

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