I hated middle school when I was in it. I've always said middle school kids are barely human, and every once in a while, something will happen to reinforce that idea.
Yesterday, I walked down to pick my son up at after-school care at the elementary school. There's a park with a playground between our home and the school where the middle school kids sometimes hang out. There were a few girls - probably about 12-13 years old - standing on top of the playset, yelling things at people who walked by.
My little boy is very social, and very polite. When we walked by, the girls started yelling silly things at him, like "Happy Birthday!" and "Happy New Year!"
Liam stopped and yelled back "Actually, my birthday is in November. This is March." They yelled something else, and he kept talking - loudly so he could be heard, but still very politely. He didn't understand the joke, and I think he really thought he was helping. It was very cute.
Very cute - until the girls decided he was boring and turned to yelling at me instead. "HEY! FAT LADY!" One of them yelled. I just took Liam's hand and kept walking. "C'MON FATSO! FAT LADY! Is that your kid? I'm talking to you in the blue coat! THAR SHE BLOWS!"
I'm 39 years old. How can jabs from middle school hooligans still get to me? There's just something about it that turns me back into the insecure 12-year-old who spent way too many afternoons crying over the mocking she took at school.
Liam tried to get his hand away from mine. He started yelling back at the girls "That's not nice! You are MEAN girls!" I think if I had let him go, he would have taken them all on - one furious 7-year-old vs. 4 teenagers. He was very confused. He didn't understand why someone could be so happy about being mean.
I have to keep telling myself that things like this need to motivate me further - not discourage me. My first instinct when someone calls me fat is to drown my sorrows in a quart of ice cream. Instead, I try to replay those scenes when I'm running out of gas at the end of my work-out, and use them to fuel one last burst of power. I wish I could say that's the easy way to go. It's hard to hear those things - even from rotten children who mean nothing to me. If they weren't calling me "Fatso" they'd find something else to mock and THEY'RE CHILDREN.
I also remind myself of the many wonderful kids I see every day. My two boys who would jump in to save someone else from mocking or bullying (and have - much to the school's consternation); the teens in our karate class who are so mature they feel like my peers - though they're all young enough to be my children; the younger kids I teach in karate who I've witnessed going out of their way to make school misfits feel accepted.
I guess I should restate my original premise. SOME middle school kids are barely human. The rest are the reason we let them all live.