I can’t believe you’re in seventh grade. I have many feelings about this. How can you already be this old? Just yesterday you were starting preschool, me taking your very first “first day of school” picture as you all clutched toy train cars in your chubby little fists. There’s no possible way that was nine years ago.
But I’ve also been dreading this day. Seventh grade was hands down, the worst year of my life. As if being a twelve-year-old girl isn’t awkward enough, I was tall and overweight. I had terrible hair (I mean, to be fair, who didn’t?) While I had a group of good friends, I was also bullied terribly.
Girls who previously were my friends turned on me. I got crank calls at home. They threw pennies at me on the bus. I was taunted and called names. God forbid I made any mistake in front of them. I’d never live it down.
I can still vividly remember the day I forgot to pick up my cafeteria tray at the end of lunch. Of course, the mean girls were now sitting at that table. Of course, they saw me come back and retrieve my tray, blushing furiously. Of course, they teased me about it afterward. More than 30 years later, I am right back in that spot in the cafeteria whenever I make an embarrassing mistake.
I’m sure I became a stronger person after that year. I’m sure it helped me grow in ways I can only guess at. But I’m not sorry to say I don’t want that for you. Because it also affected my self-esteem. I am not willing to do anything that might end in embarrassing myself. I might be better now at laughing at myself, but part of me is right back in the cafeteria when I do something dumb.
I am hopeful your seventh grade will be much better for you. I don’t know if being boys will help. I don’t know if the fact that there are three of you will help. Maybe you’ll be okay because you’ve known your classmates almost your entire lives. And I know them, and I know their parents. I hope so.
Frankly, the fact that COVID has meant that seventh grade is online is a huge relief to me. I don’t know why when I think about it. Bullying online is a real thing. But I’m so glad you’re here at home with me where I can keep a close eye on you. And our cafeteria is a much friendlier place.
P.S. One of those penny-throwing, crank-calling bullies apologized to me in college, when we randomly ran into each other. So there is some hope in the world.