Life & The Middle School Blues

Old Video Games at the Manitou Arcade

It is easy for me to relate to my 8th grader’s experience in school but the reverse isn’t entirely true. That is because until a few years ago he went to a private school that worked very hard to make sure that everyone respected each other.

That doesn’t mean that no one was ever teased or bullied there because that stuff happens everywhere but timing, luck and whatever gave my son a clear path so he didn’t experience any sort of negative banter until the tail end of 7th grade.

A group of kids started teasing him and he didn’t like it. When he told me about it I listened and suggested that it didn’t sound malicious in nature and figured since the end of the school year was about a month out it was best to just ignore it.

“Don’t react to what they say. Just smile and go about your business and they’ll find other people to mess with.”

He said ok and asked me what happens when school starts up again and I said let’s not worry about it unless and until it happens again.

“On more than one occasion I have responded to their inquiries with “because I said so” or something similar. And one more than one occasion I have thought that Einstein would kick my ass and then I remember that I am not afraid of dead pacifists.”  Children Shouldn’t Be On Facebook- Dad Said No

The Value of a Father’s Advice

I have used “because I said so” or “don’t worry” as responses and advice more than I like to. It is not the kind of response that made me happy as a kid and I don’t necessarily like it anymore as an adult but sometimes it is the best response for a particular moment.

School resumed a few weeks ago and so has the teasing I am told that there are two or three girls doing it. Since they are playing with his name I suspect that one or more of them are doing so because they like him and not because they are being mean.

This makes me him squirm a bit which makes me think his protests about not liking girls isn’t real. Matter of fact I am 96% certain the guy has discovered that some girls might be fun to play with and is wrestling with that.

Reminds me of the way his old man started to squirm when hormones and puberty started to mess with me. But it also reminds me of some things I went through and that some wounds take longer to heal.

I was never the cool guy growing up so I don’t have cool moves he can use to fix things. But it hasn’t stopped me from offering some advice about dealing with people in general.

Tips that I am very confident about and one that might be a big mistake.

I Am Ready To Fight

Last night he told me he is tired of being ignored when he asks people to call him by his real name. “I am ready to fight, let’s get the shirt.”

The shirt is a reference to an idea I had where he would make a shirt that says, “Hi I Am Insert the name he dislikes here.” It was an off the cuff remark I made about ways to own the name and make people recognize it doesn’t bother him.

“Junior, if they don’t think it bothers you they will find a new person to annoy.

What concerns me about this is what happens if it blows up in his face or goes sideways in some fashion. He hates being the center of attention so bringing attention to rid himself of it might be dicey to begin with.

It makes me wonder if I was an idiot and gave him bad advice so I have sort of dragged my feet about helping him do this.

I don’t expect him to skate through life unscathed. Fact is I think something like this might be helpful, as long as it stays at this level and doesn’t continue all year round.

It is important to learn how to deal with people and adversity but still it grinds on me a bit.

Parenting is not for the faint of heart.

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9 Comments

  1. mommy_grrl August 28, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    My son will be in middle school next year and I dread it. He doesn’t have a mean bone in his body (except for the one he saves for his little sister) and is always so hurt when he is bullied. These are the days I was thankful for going to Catholic school for all 8 years – no switch to the middle school. (And yes, I would say the girls are crushing on him.)

    • The JackB August 29, 2014 at 9:39 am

      Your son might surprise you, mine did. He is very sensitive and the transition was far smoother than I had expected it to be. It is so hard to be in our position and wait to see what happens when we know all that could. But sometimes it goes better than expected so…

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  3. Annie Marie Peters August 28, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    Did you see Stan’s story about making a million?

  4. TheJackB August 27, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    Gina1 I didn’t have this thick skin at that age either. Took a long time to get to  this place and I’d be lying if I said nothing gets through now.

    The more I talk to my son the more I think at least one of these girls is doing it because she likes him. He keeps squirming so I think he might really find them interesting too.  But the boys, well that is different and I do wish I could eyeball them face to face.

    Probably wouldn’t help my kid, but I like the idea. 🙂

    Damn bullies.

  5. TheJackB August 27, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    Faryna I appreciate that but I am a bit nervous because my remark was really closer to something I would do. I can be that wacky guy and not care about what people think, but my son…not so much.

    Still I agree it is better than the Klingon way.

  6. Gina1 August 27, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    One of the things I absolutely hated at that age. I have a very sensitive one, and he could never let things roll off his back. Talked and talked about it as a method of diffusing. He couldn’t. It makes him him but to it’s to his detriment still ( at 21). I hate bullies. You are giving the best advice you know and listening. That is good parenting.

  7. Faryna August 27, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    It doesn’t sound like you’ve given bad advice. Self-discovery has ups and downs. The Klingon rite of passage requires one to walk through two columns of ass hats wielding bull prods – indiscriminately.

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