Saturday, February 20, 2010

It’s hard to find a more diverse place than junior high. All shapes and sizes and levels of social awkwardness shuffle through the halls trying to be cool. Because they’re all in such a season of change the scenery can be different every week. The transformation between September and May rivals Ripley’s Believe Or Not. It’s like watching a gaggle of moths wriggling out of their cocoons.

The two big challenges junior highers face aren’t Science and English. Nothing makes a 7th grader’s heart race like the P.E. locker room and the cafeteria, the most odorous places on the campus.

An invitation to sit with the popular kids at noon is almost as important as air. And if you do land a seat nothing could ruin it faster than your mom packing something dumb in your lunch like a meatloaf sandwich. It’s advisable to open the brown bag slowly to see if anything is tradable before unloading it all on the table.

When I was in junior high it was tempting to hold on to the empty lunch sack in case I started to hyperventilate in the P.E. locker room. Trying to cover up in the shower with a towel the size of a Kleenex was almost acrobatic. Everyone could plainly see what you were and what you weren’t. But no one ever considered what you might become.

Another metamorphosis takes place after birthing babies. And by the time your babies have babies self confidence in the locker room has run full circle and is back to where it was in 7th grade. So when I went to a spa not long ago I almost drown in the flood of uneasy memories as the attendant ushered me to the locker room. However, the towels were huge and plush, big robes were provided, and the showers were private. Obviously, the spa owners didn’t like the junior high locker room either.

Long after junior high we fear people seeing who we are and who we aren’t, never considering who we are becoming. It’s best to just get over it. At any age we are in a transition of some sort. Where we are right now is getting us ready for what is coming next.

Relax and enjoy the ride. Scenery changes all the time. The windshield is much bigger than the rear view mirror. I will admit, though, I smile because junior high is in my rear view mirror.

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