Monday, February 28, 2011

Welcome to the Jungle

So...I went to a middle school orientation last week. I should have been thinking about my twins: how they would adjust come next year, what they would love, what would give them pause. But of course I didn't manage to do what I was supposed to do, for I am too self-absorbed! It must always be about me! Me! ME! And that is how I fell down the memory well and directly into my own junior high school experience.

Which was horrible.

So awkward.

Bad hair, owl glasses, Chinese slippers. Tough girls who smoked and swore and had hickeys and who scared the crap outta me.

Algebra. Absolutely did not get algebra.

And there was some guy who had the locker above mine, and he'd always reach down and grab at my non-existent boobs. This was so traumatizing that I cannot remember his face or name.

Kids at this age are the worst kids EVER. My science teacher's husband committed suicide by jumping in front of a train, and on her first day back at work one of us said, "How do you feel about trains now?"

Girls would get in fights, and the object would be to inflict embarrassment by ripping each other's shirts off. And did any of us try to stop these fights? No, we'd stand there in a circle, screaming, screaming.

I was called "schoolgirl" and "virgie."

I do not recall a school library; I do not recall a school principal, school office, or any place or person of comfort other than my childhood friend, Paul, who walked to school with me every day.

I was pulled out of a class once a week—I can't remember which—to attend something called "High Potential." Every week at the appointed time, I would raise my hand. "Yes?" the teacher (male) would say.

"I have to go now."

"Oh? Where do you have to go?"

"To my HP class."

"What does 'HP' stand for?" he'd say, even though I did this every week, and even though he already knew.

"Um, high potential."

"You think you have higher potential than the other kids in this class?"

"No," I'd say, my face turning red. "I don't know."

"Well, someone apparently thinks that you do." And I would just stare at him, stupid in my owl glasses and bad short hair and red face. "Well, what are you waiting for? GO!"

And that, my friends, is some of what I can recall of junior high school. The idea of my own children having to be dropped into such scenarios makes my head hurt. But I have to say that the school I visited did not at all appear to be the same sort of lawless jungle that mine was. But we'll see, right?

We'll see.


Gladys said...

that last teacher was an asshole. a power-tripper. if he was a good person, he'd never have humiliated you or any kid, especially a non-troublemaker who he knew wouldn't talk back. if he didn't agree with HP, he ought to have done something about it himself with the adults in charge. asshole. i really want to say worse things, but i'll refrain.

anyway, sorry. i remember teachers like that. that they have so much power over children enrages me.

ver said...

He was one of those people who clearly hated what he did for a living. At the time, he was a real puzzle to me; I couldn't figure out why he was so mean. And I still can't remember what subject he "taught."

JODI said...

Having done the middle school experience as a parent x3 I feel the need to assure you middle school isn't like that anymore. Bullying is taken much more serious than it was back in our middle school days and kids with "high potential" are celebrated, looked up to and envied. That is not to say middle school is not without its doses of drama and trauma--I attest hormones to any unacceptable behaviors--and girls are the worst. But, in the end, middle school helps to begin to form young people in to who they are to become. Remember this: everyone is popular within there own group of friends. And that is what matters most [in middle school]!!