Emma starts Jr High this year. These were the three years I was most afraid of when Emma was born a girl. In fact, I remember telling my sister-in-law that she (who was then shepherding three girls of her own through Jr High) would have to take over when we reached this point. I just knew I wouldn’t be able to cope.
What I remember of Jr High is as follows: thick, wavy, uncontrollable red hair, freckles everywhere, teeth so messed up I was afraid to smile, never wearing the correct combination of clothes, finding one perfect outfit and wearing it until that in itself became the joke, being too smart for my own good, afraid to be alone in the bathroom, afraid not to be alone in the bathroom, a crush on the same guy as everyone else, not getting over the crush when everyone else did, total lack of athletic ability, living in the country when it was cool to live in town and being so, so naïve. I may not have actually walked around with a big target on my back, but I totally knew it was there. By late 8th grade/early 9th grade my eyes and lips would swell out caused by what could only have been self-induced stress. I know I called my mama from the school at least a dozen times during that time period. What I thought then was that Jr High was killing me. What I know now is that Jr High-age girls are completely irrational and crave drama.
And it’s not like Emma’s starting from a perfectly stable platform either: she’s always been my heart-on-the-sleeve, touchy-feely child. She begs for attention, has a raging desire to please, and is, to be totally honest, lazy. She dreams of being a cheerleader, but has never spent more than one afternoon learning to do a cartwheel. She’s convinced she can be a radio star (thanks Disney!) but declines to practice piano or guitar or write down any of the (sometimes really good) songs she’s written. Her curvy plumpness causes her no end of clothing trauma, yet she can’t be bothered to put outfits together any earlier than the minutes just before walking out the door, has no interest in laundry unless it’s not done and cannot seem to admit that things that look nice on girls without boobs and a butt will not look the same on a girl who does have boobs and a butt and vice versa.
I worry for her. I’m not as nice as my mama was.
What do I want Emma to get out of and bring to Jr High? That’s easy. I want Emma to know
- that what she brings and what she takes away from Jr High is totally up to her,
- that real friendships are built by treating others the way she wants to be treated,
- that a positive attitude invites happiness,
- that most things worth having or worth doing require discipline and sacrifice,
- that self-respect is a dead ringer for self-confidence and the total cure for boobs and butt,
- that you should never be ashamed to ask for help, and
- that laughing at yourself is way more fun than looking for drama.
A little math, science and history wouldn’t be all that bad either.
Pray for us.