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Advice to Myself about Middle School…


If I could jump into a tricked out DeLorean and go back to the future, I would write myself this warning letter before Missy started middle school six weeks ago…

Dear Karen,

You are completely clueless. Here’s a glimpse into the days ahead so you can “make better choices” that will save your liver and relationship with your daughter.

First, repeat after me: “I have a unique, sweet, funny and creative daughter.” Keep running that through your head during every crying spell, last-minute outfit change, eye roll, missed bus and “You just don’t understand!” huff.

That expensive Vera Bradley backpack that she begged, pleaded and saved all of her money to purchase? It will barely squeeze into her locker and fits two books.

Yes, she really is one of the only kids without a cell phone in middle school.

At the end of the second day of school, she will call from the office in tears begging you to pick her up because none of her friends are at the all-school kick-off party. She doesn’t know anyone there and is standing by herself. You tell her where to meet and race over to school with your heart in your throat. When you arrive, she’s nowhere to be seen.

Go run an errand. Or take a nap. She’s fine.

In fact, she’s whooping it up so much with her girlfriends, that she doesn’t even bother to meet you. It won’t be until a half hour later that she suddenly jerks around and starts running to your meeting spot. You’ll watch her panic, searching for you before you call her name.  She starts sobbing all over again while explaining that she found her friends after she called home and lost track of the time. You will quote the Boy Who Cries Wolf and drag her ass home.

A few days later, your husband will get her a super-cool texting phone that makes yours looks like it has a rotary dial. It does come in handy when the bus goes up in smoke and she needs a ride. It also freaks her out in the middle of the night when it keeps vibrating every 10 minutes.

During week two, you will learn that she accidentally joined the Cross Country team when she thought she was signing the sheet to use the bathroom.

It is also at that time that she will come home in a panic because someone broke into her locker and stole her Spanish binder and colored pencils. Not the expensive Vera Bradley backpack. She is beside herself at how hard it is to stay organized, so you head out to Target for a new binder, colored pencils and a Trapper Keeper.

The next day, you’ll meet her after school to help organize her locker and binders. You discover that the thief kindly left her binder in her Spanish Class and put the colored pencils in the very back of her locker. What a considerate robber!

Dress comfortably because you will spend the next hour numbing your butt on a dirty floor as she regroups and organizes. Tip from the future: pack spelling words and a DS for Junior or he will run up and down the halls, getting in the janitor’s way. You will screech at him, not realizing that your daughter’s teachers are still in their classrooms.

She will forget her lunch and be completely mortified when you drive up to the bus stop— nipping out — in your pjs, glasses and Something About Mary morning hair and hand her girly-girl lunch box to the nearest/cutest 8th grade boy. “Please give this to Eileen.”

He will hold it up in the air and yell, “Who is Eileen?” and your daughter will sheepishly grab it from him. I really wouldn’t do anything differently but add a “Yoo-hooo!” It was super awesome.

The third week of school she will get a sinus infection. Skip the first round of antibiotics – they are like Flintstone vitamins and won’t work. Get the next level. There will be a shitload of make-up work that will put both of you in tears.

You’ll spread out all of the assignments on the living room floor. Make check lists. Put together a schedule of when to do what work. Binder clip groups of worksheets. All while you are managing her loads of work, your son will fail his spelling test because you have completely forgotten about him.

She will finally recover and audition for the school play. When you pick her up, she bursts into tears because she has a migraine and can barely see straight. Advice: be sure to bring a bucket because she will puke in the van and Junior will also start to gag.

Another day of school will be missed which pretty much seals the deal that you will forever be nagging her about missing assignments and make-up quizzes. You’ll also become addicted to the online grade system and stalking her teachers.

In the meantime, Junior flunks some other test that you had no idea about.  Please try to pay attention to that kid once in a while.

Or teach him how to cheat.

Good luck with this. You’re gonna need it~
Karen

PS: For the love of God, pull your dress down while taking a picture in the front row for your own grade school reunion. Hail-damaged thighs AND a crotch shot?!?! Classy.

Why you should always wear clean underwear. Or any underwear.

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11 comments

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  1. Patty

    Thanks for the belly laughs! I can so relate to the 100% focus on the drama queen while ignoring the son who has to raise himself. What I love about the reunion photo is you trying to hide the beer behind a poster. Us NW side Catholic girls act alike! You look cute, though.

    1. Karen

      Yes, I haven’t changed too much since my Catholic school days — skirt hiked up too short & hiding beers!

  2. Lisa

    Stop focusing on the bottom half of this picture, look how cute the top half is!!

    1. Karen

      Thanks, Lisa. This is the picture that is all over FB!

  3. Mia

    Dear god I love you Karen!! Can’t wait to get to middle school……I can’t freakin handle 2nd and 4th grades. All I hear when Chuck is doing his math is “can’t we just wait for dad”. The other day he declared he wants to be an actuary–who’s kid says that??? Sam wants to be a speed skater. It’s official Pete is the fun one and I am the constant bitch trying like hell to get a vegetable in them once a week and making them do their homework. I thought maybe just maybe one of them would turn out to be gay and like to shop but NOOOOOOO not my hockey lovin, math lovin, pete lovin boys. Guess it’s time to go buy some pink skates, cuz if you can’t beat em join em. ugh……

    1. Karen

      Okay, I just found out what an actuary was last year. Until then, I thought it had something to do with dead people. Just be glad that you’re the only hormonal one in the house once middle school hits!

  4. Christina

    As the mother of a new 6th grader as well, we’ve experienced almost every one of the above milestones including project trapperkeeper – lord help me when my “unorganized one” gets to middle school. I always thought that middle schoolers didn’t wear winter coats and boots in cold weather because it wasn’t hip. I now realize it is because there is not a single extra inch of room for a coat (can barely cram a light hoodie in there before quickly slamming/stuffing it shut) let alone boots. While I’m looking forward to a family vacation this winter that will take my 6th grader out of school for a whole week, I”m not looking forward to the makeup stress and meltdowns that will happen thereafter. Gee wiz, it is 6th grade. I didn’t have to be this on top of things until college.

    1. Karen

      So with you on the coat & boot thing! I hope Missy’s fancy backpack keeps her warm because it’s the only thing that fits into her locker. Good luck with vacation. She missed a total of 5 days and you would have thought she was out for a semester.

      Thanks for feeling my pain!

  5. Diane

    Then, the mom goes to her Zumba classs to relieve this middle school stress, just to be advised that her sweet child is sitting at the “Weird Table” in class. At home, the “Weird Table” is confirmed with pride by your middle schooler, as well as a list of the other table occupants.

  6. Tara

    Thankfully you know that both of your children are totally normal because we are all going through the same issues. All I ever hear from Tom is that I ask too many questions and to stop being so concerned. God I can’t wait for him to have kids of his own! I will sit back in my rocking chair and watch my grandkids tell their dad to stop being so concerned and asking so many questions. He will turn to me and say, “You had it lucky because I was never this bad.” I will never win.

  7. Peg

    Oh my god woman I’m exhausted just reading about your life the past few weeks lmao I wish you would have called me, I would have talked you through all of the bs. Things will settle down, middle school is a big adjustment and honestly you are doing a great job. Don’t sell yourself short sista. Call me ANY time!!!! I mean it. : )

    BTW, I think I know the test you’re talking about and I also didn’t know they had it!! Nora didn’t do very well either but honestly now that Sar is in college and I know what’s ahead for our 3rd graders, bigger and badder challenges, a 3rd grade test is way down on my list of things to worry about!!!!! Is that bad?!! No it’s not.

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