Middle school is the worst. I successfully got my oldest two kids through it, but my middle daughter is now in seventh grade and struggling. I know that she will be just fine because I’ve been there and done that but it’s so hard.
Middle school is insecurity, hormones, and drama—oh, my goodness the drama! It’s a never-ending cycle, usually stemming from insecurity and hormones. I can’t think of anything worse than being stuck in the awful transition period between being a kid and a young adult.
Some kids sail through middle school, while some are left in the dust struggling to keep up.
This week, my seventh grader has been in tears because of girls on her basketball team. She’s 12, and 12-year-olds can be overly sensitive at times. And insecure. And sometimes it’s neither of those things, because 12-year-old girls can be mean. So, we talk.
I remind her to be kind and never make another girl feel like she is feeling. I tell her that a true friend would never intentionally make her feel small. But I also tell her that friends are not perfect and sometimes they hurt our feelings. My heart shatters for her.
But I know that, in a few days, friendships will be fixed and all will be good in her world. Until the next time. My daughter makes statements about feeling ugly and awkward.My heart breaks all over again, but I reassure her that she is perfect, loved, and unique. And that it will get better. This is the same kid I will have to remind to take a shower and pray that she decides to wear some of the cute clothes she just had to have, instead of the favorite hoodie she wears like a security blanket.
My daughter also makes comments about how she will never have a boyfriend—and she’s not even allowed to have one yet! But some of her friends do and, even though she’s technically not allowed to have one, it bugs her that no boy seems interested. Her big sister and I remind her that boys are dumb in seventh grade and it’s better to wait to find the boy she really likes, who also likes her.
But she’s 12, so she still worries. And worries…
She worries that she’s weird. She worries that she is trying too hard. Sometime she worries she is not trying hard enough. She worries that kids think she is a goody-goody. She worries that her hair is thin, her teeth look funny, she’s short. She compares herself to everyone, but especially to her big sister.
So I tell my daughter to own her weirdness, to just be herself and people will like her for who she is. Or they won’t, and that’s okay too. I tell her that getting good grades, never missing a practice, and working hard will take her further in life than spending more time worrying. Or on her phone.
I tell her that I’m sorry she inherited my thin hair, but some things just can’t be helped. I tell her that the dentist assures us her teeth will be okay. And I tell her I’m short too and that eventually she will realize there are perks to being the short girl. I tell her that while her big sister is awesome, and it’s great that she admires her, she’s far from perfect—and she complained about being the tall girl in middle school.
It’s only Wednesday and all of this has happened this week.
I know in my heart that my daughter will be okay. I don’t need to dwell on it or constantly ask her if she’s all right. She just needs to know that I am her safe space to vent whenever she’s not all right.
I want to hear the bad with the good, and I want her to know that she’s not being judged at home. At home, no one cares if she’s secretly a Star Wars fan like her dad, or that she’d rather snuggle up in bed and read all day than be on Snapchat. I want her to know that home she is free to still be a kid.
Because middle school is hard.