I was listening to NPR on the radio this morning on the way to work, and as John thoughtful took his car with my parking permit in it to his place of work, I got to drive extra far this morning, which meant I got to listen extra long.

They were discussing, among other things, middle school, and whether it was beneficial to students to have a K-8 or a separate elementary and middle school. There were various debates for each, and they also touched on resources, social status of the area, parent involvment and whatnot as ways to improve middle school learning.

The very first call they took was from a lady who questioned the “elephant in the room”: the extreme social pressures, the bullying, the cliques, the stigma of middle school.

I wanted to congratulate her.

Middle school was awhile ago, but it was not the happiest time of my life, which is pretty standard now that I can look back. You’re just beginning to realize the potential of the opposite gender. People become much more judgemental. There are a lot of social games that probably are more relevant to adults, yet children are obviously playing them.

I will admit to making mistakes, and to getting involved in the social games of my peers. Through combinations of my own actions, my naitivity relative to other people, and just simple circumstances, things happened that scarred me for quite some time, and I’m sure some of them I’ll never really get over. I can forgive, but I have trouble forgetting.

I was on the editorial board of my high school’s literary publication, and you would not believe the amount of “dark” poetry and writings we got about middle school. Four years later, it was almost comical, but you could see that the invisible marks left by those two years were still felt, and that is troublesome.

But I don’t think a lot of the problems with middle school come from what the program commentators were talking about. I think the lady hit the proverbial nail squarely on the head. Middle school, in general, is a miserable time for all children, and the more counseling and openness people can generate to allow kids to ask for help, the better.

I survived somewhat intact, as evidence by the fact that I’m here and alive to talk about it (that in and of itself is an achievement for me frankly, but we won’t get into that). My self esteem and confidence, as well as my trust in other human beings, was eventually mended, if not restored. Life is better now.

A very loving relationship with a boy in high school, followed by John, and better faith in myself and my ability to judge and trust others has helped me immensely. I won’t say I’ve completely learned my lesson, as evidenced by my ability to tell people things that I *know* I don’t want to be teased about but that I reveal anyway, but like I said, I survived.

It would have been easier, I think, if somebody had reached out to me and helped me through those times. I did have one teacher who took me aside and told me she didn’t think the boy I was “dating” was good for me, and she was completely right, but in my desperate need to fit in and be appreciated, having a boyfriend was more important.

Ah well, the insights of age.

Regardless, I do believe middle school is a necessary evil, and until we can get those kids to be kids and not play adult games, it will remain just that.

I’ll add this to my mental checklist of things to deal with when I have kids of my own. Based on what I got away with, it also includeds don’t trust ’em as far as you can throw ’em.

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