Yesterday was the big day for Bentley - 8th grade graduation. The biggest day of ones middle school career, just short of the first day of 6th grade, and definitely one of the biggest milestones in a young person’s life. When you finish 8th grade, you are not only leaving behind a school you know backwards and forward, a faculty and staff that you have grown to love and hate at times, or some friends that are parting ways and going to different high schools - you are leaving behind 3 years of puberty, awkwardness, drama and cliques. You are moving forward to a better phase of life where people typically grow up, get better looking, and become nicer, more genuine human beings. You walk out of that middle school and a weight is lifted off of your shoulders; you are headed to the big, bad world of high school where the girls get prettier and discover eyeliner, the boys get more handsome and begin to regularly use deodorant, and life overall takes a huge turn.
Interestingly enough, I spent more time yesterday talking with George about the end of 8th grade and the beginning of high school. Because Bentley’s graduation was during the school day, I only picked up George in the carpool line, leaving us 30 minutes to talk about anything. Somedays, the drive home with just one kid can be really awkward. Other days, the boys take advantage of the time with me and ask me questions or tell me things that they would probably never say in front of their brother.
George told me that during the school day, the girls were all having meltdowns and crying because one of the “more popular” girls was moving away to another state over the summer. They were all sad that they would “never see her again” and that their “BFF was gone”, and he said he just could not handle the drama of that.
He then asked me, “Does it get better in high school?”
I thought for a second. "What do you mean?"
"I mean, do the kids change in high school..or does everything stay the same? Or is it better… or worse?”
I took a second to process the question while my heart broke a little bit. I have no idea what these kids deal with at school. Maybe they’re bullied, maybe people treat them badly..they would never tell me, but you never know. So I knew I had a few options of where I could go with this one: I could say, “Yeah, everyone is nicer in high school”, or “I don’t know, depends on who you hang out with”, or I could tell him the truth with a little bit of mercy.
I told him what I remembered from high school. I know that it varies from year to year, school to school, county to county, state to state, and country to country, so I generalized what I could to try and make it applicable to what I think he may experience at this time next year when he graduates from 8th grade.
I told him that the summer after 8th grade, the boys all got cuter and taller, but most importantly, during that summer you learn very quickly who your real friends are and who was just around for school fun. Some people go their separate ways because they switch schools and some people stick together, and either one is okay. I told him that at my high school, there were still cliques (which he said they are calling “crews” these days) through the middle of sophomore year, but by 11th grade, everyone learned that trying to be cool wasn’t really important, but instead college applications and ACT scores became a priority. And I told him that high school was way, way more fun that middle school, because you start to learn who you are and discover your true purpose in life.
I told him that the best part of my high school experience was trying new things. I came from a public school and went to a private school where I knew 3 people in my grade, and I was able to become whoever I wanted to be. So I tried choir, lacrosse, cross country, track, yearbook, and the school newspaper staff. I spent my summers cutting grass and my junior year, I got a retail job and still continued to cut the lawns until I went off to college. I did every little thing that I could to live my life to the fullest because those 4 years of high school go by far, far too quickly, and the next thing you know you are in college and having to make decisions that will determine what you do for the rest of your life.
Most importantly, I told him to not feel like high school was ever a popularity contest. That if you go through with one or two very good friends, that you are incredibly blessed.
Keep Calm, and Nanny On!
- The Nanny Diaries and Adventures