In about a month my children will start middle school. It seems I am much more concerned about this than either of them are, but I'm not totally sure.
I'm afraid they just don't realize. Not yet.
It's sort of sweet that they don't. They are still so innocent. They have no idea.
Middle school was an oh-nevermind for me. I was nervous, I guess, but it was basically the same group of kids that I went to elementary school with. We just changed classes when a bell rang. The entire group of kids changed classes at the same time, though.
Granted, my middle school was a small, hometown kind of place. I went to school with a lot of the same kids for thirteen years in a row. That's a really freaking long time. A lot of them still live in the same town and have their families there. Their parents went to the schools there. Met in high school. Bought split-levels there in the 1970's, with sprawling lawns and picket fences. They still live there. The grandchildren come and visit them.
High school? That was different.
I remember, vividly, going to orientation. We all gathered in the auditorium and they announced the class officers. As all these people I didn't know stood up, I got this horrible, sinking feeling in my stomach.
I don't belong here.
It felt awful. I didn't have the right kind of clothes. I didn't look like the girls around me, with their make-up just so and their fingernails painted.
There were people who were really mean and ugly to me. REALLY, REALLY mean. I guess that happens to everyone, to some degree. My life wasn't made Hell by bullies or anything, but I certainly remember some of the stinging gabs made by Other People who were Better Than Me.
And certainly, I was loud and annoying and probably a bit of a know-it-all. I was really into the environment and Green Peace when I was about fifteen and I was pretty much belligerent and ridiculous. I'm sure I deserved many or all of the eye-rolls I received.
I was just figuring out who I was, I suppose.
Eventually it was okay, of course. I made friends. I did okay. I had boyfriends and a job and, eventually, a best friend. And, probably most importantly, I realized that there was more to life than this. And no matter how high school went, even if it was dreadful, that no one would remember me or care later on. Life would keep moving. I would live in other places and know other people. Even if no one liked me at all. Someday I would meet people who would like me. Love me, even. And they would be the people that matter.
My children are going to start attending a monstrosity of a school. A school which, I believe, five elementary schools feed into. There are a LOT of kids they don't know. A lot of kids that, for better or worse, they will have to get to know.
And they? Are totally unconcerned.
Maybe, just maybe, they already understand.
There are still people I went to school with that I talk to. That I love to hear from. That have been great supporters of me and are interested in me and what I'm doing with my life. I am so, so grateful for them.
I hope my kids know that there will be some people like this. Some people that you care about twenty years from now. Not all people you know will be in your life forever. But some will remain. The ones that matter? They will remain.
But for now? I guess I'm just grateful that they don't know. They are okay with who they are.
I hope no one ever takes that away from them.