A letter to daughters who are beginning middle school
It would be so convenient if you could learn from my experiences. I’d tell you what I know, and you’d avoid the pitfalls of my youth! But, in reality, you get bored and irritated when I lecture you about my long-ago self. And that presents me with something of a parenting challenge.
So, as you start middle school this week, I’d like to impart a little wisdom by writing to you in VERY GENERAL TERMS. Here goes.
SOME PEOPLE had a difficult time in middle school, socially speaking. SOME PEOPLE had skinny ankles and worried that their hair might be grody to the max. And, SOME PEOPLE secretly suspected that they looked stupid in parachute pants.
Fortunately for these people—and I’m not naming any names—everything worked out fine in the end (except maybe the pants). There was a wonderful life after middle school that included romance and travel and craziness and gratitude. In short, SOME PEOPLE made it out alive. And, if they could offer advice to guide you through the next three years, it would probably be the following:
1) Don’t waste a lot of time and product on your hair. Your hair looks great. Seriously. In fact, the whole you is gorgeous. And it’s not just because you’re loved. And it’s not just because all of earth’s creatures are beautiful, and yadda yadda. It’s because you’re young and you still have your eyebrows. So step away from the mirror and go do something fun.
2) The people who say you’re not beautiful are lying. Middle school is a time when kids try to figure out who they are. Some of them do this by acting and speaking cruelly. If you give your father their names and addresses, he will hunt them down.
3) You will be one of those middle school kids asking, “Who am I?” You don’t want to find out that the answer is, “Someone who’s mean to other kids.” So, be kind to everyone, no matter what.
4) Be especially kind to the smart boys. It’s true—boys are everywhere, and they look so cute, and they smell so good. And maybe the brainy ones—the guys who spend all their time studying Vulcan—don’t stand out for you right now. But someday, those guys will actually know how to speak Vulcan. And program computers. And cure diseases. And write books. And that is interesting stuff. So, you might as well stay in their good graces.
5) If the school library has a copy of Judy Blume’s book Forever, don’t check it out. Tell your mother about it, and she will check it out. And then she will set it on fire. (After she’s read pages 22 and 74 one last time.)
SOME PEOPLE started fretting about your first day of middle school the moment you were born. (You did have really big feet for a baby, so there was a concern about future nicknames.)
SOME PEOPLE are impressed that you’re handling this transition with cheerful confidence and grace.
SOME PEOPLE love you so desperately that they would carry your burdens for you if they could. But, since they cannot, they offer this letter as a talisman against future heartache.
P.S. It’s me. I’m the one who loves you.
P.P.S. Don’t even bother rolling your eyes at this point. I invented that move in 1983, and I will not have it used against me.