I hated the majority of my Middle and High School experience. Were it not for a close group of girlfriends I met my 8th grade year, I’m not really sure I would have made it out of school. I wasn’t a bad student. I got decent grades and actually loved the learning aspect. I hated the busy work. I hated the halfassed curriculum and poorly thought out assignments. I hated the teachers who droned on like Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off about absolutely nothing of consequence. Even at the tender age of 13, I knew I had better things to do with my time than detail the parts and pieces of a worm and memorize the capital of some Western European State that would get renamed a few years later.
A few nights ago I found myself once again roaming the halls of a middle school, only this time it was for parent orientation. We were given our kids’ schedule and were expected to follow a modified bell schedule for our kid’s classes. Of course maps weren’t available, so you had to rely on your powers of deduction to find the classrooms. After going through the motions for two hours, I realized a few things.
First, the middle school experience hasn’t gotten any better. The building still smells. When you’re short and there are 18,000 people in the halls taller than you it’s nearly impossible to find your classroom. You will be late to class. The teacher will give you the stink eye for being late even if your schedule says the wrong room.
Next, educators are still the same. The principal is clueless and only the office staff know what’s going on. Most of the teachers still treat you like you’ve done something wrong even when you haven’t because they expect you to be surly. To the teacher’s defense, 13 year olds are typically very surly. Then you have your different types of teacher. There are the ones that have been there forever and are so good you hope every child you know gets to have that teacher just once. Then there is one that has been teaching forever and should not have become a teacher or at minimum retired 20 years ago. There is the teacher who thinks they are cool and aren’t and the one that is but doesn’t let it go to their head. There’s also the hardass and the doormat. And, finally, the ones just punching the clock and praying it will all be over soon.
Finally, the kids, err I mean adults, are still basically the same. There are the perfects with their perfect make up, hair and outfits. They are so damn perky you want to slap them because let’s be real no one is that damn happy over mundane crap even if you are trying to have a positive attitude. Back in the day, they would have called to each other across the hall about a sale at the Gap or maybe a party. The other night I heard one simper, “Hey Karen, are y’all doing lacrosse again this year? I sure hope we see Chloe next week!” You know perfect doesn’t give a rat’s ass about Chloe but there she is pretending to care. There’s the smart kids, the greasers, the hipsters, the artists, the jocks and the suck ups. You remember the suck ups? They are the ones all up in the teacher’s face as soon as the bell rings. There were several of those at orientation night. Personally, I know I reverted back. Much like I am today, I didn’t have time for all the fake bullshit. I was a jaded adult in a child’s body. With zero f$cks to give, I was uninterested and above it all. I gave the teachers the ‘Yeah, I’m here because I have to be, now thrill me’ look. In short, think Daria with thing for Disney.
I think the thing that struck me the most was despite how much things have changed since I was in school, it’s interesting to see how much they are still the same. While I’ll never understand the pressure to have a million subscribers on my social media account, I will know what it’s like when simpering Becky or no neck Evan blackballs my kids that never want to grow up or haven’t hit their growth spurt. Hopefully just being able to remember all those personalities and things that never change will help my guide my kids. If it doesn’t help at least I showed my face at orientation so the administration will know who I am when I have to raise hell on my kid’s behalf.
Photo credit: Free picture. I’m broke not copyright infringement intended.