This year, my son graduated elementary school, and in the coming fall will officially become a junior high school student. It is the end of one era and the beginning of another, as my first-born continues to grow and blossom into adulthood.
And I friggin’ hate it.
I don’t want a child who is in junior high for the simple fact that junior high sucks. It sucked for everyone. No one in the history of the educational system has ever said, “Oh yeah, junior high school? That was the BOMB.”
Think I’m exaggerating? Here are a few examples of my own dumpster fire of a middle school career:
- In sixth grade, kids started calling me Spaz whenever they saw me, which would cause me to indeed spaz, which would then cause everyone to chant, “Spaz! Spaz! Spaz!” It lasted for 2 ½ years until I finally found the courage to make it stop. (That last part is a complete lie. Kids just got bored with calling me Spaz and moved on to someone else.)
- I once asked Donna Charlton to slow dance with me at the eighth grade dance. She did and I spent a glorious five minutes and forty six seconds slowing dancing with her to “True” by Spandau Ballet. Once the song ended, though, Donna looked me square in the eyes and said, “I only danced with you because Wally Mills asked me first, but he smells like mothballs.” It still stings even to this day.
- During a junior high football game, Coach Beyer pulled me from the game and said, “Pynchon, I can’t use you. You stink and you’re no good!” Now, Coach Beyer wasn’t entirely wrong there, but come on, he didn’t need to punk me like that.
And you know what the worst part of all that is? Many would consider all of the above to be a rather successful junior high experience.
So even if the heavens parted and the junior high school gods (who I am pretty sure all resemble the cast of California Dreams) pointed at my son and exclaimed, “You! You are the chosen one. Your junior high school experience will be free from unwanted acne, unwanted bullying, and unwanted boners,” I still wouldn’t a junior high schooler in my life. A junior high schooler is just a few quick jumps to actual high school, and then … well, life as we know it is pretty much over for me. It means I transition from a young(ish) dad with little kids to an old(er) dad with kids who are perfecting the numerous ways they can say, “Whatever, Dad.”
Basically, it goes like this: Having a child who is in elementary school is adorable; having one in junior high school is scary; having one in high school is utterly terrifying. And having one in college? Full-on nightmare fuel.
I get that the pre-teen/early teen years are tough ones but — and I am going to be fully transparent and selfish here when I say this — I don’t want to go through them again. I already did my time; I don’t need to live through those tortures via my son. Puberty blows, whether you’re the kid going through it or the parent witnessing it.
I think there needs to be an invention that can suddenly change your kid’s age from 11 to a full-grown adult. Wouldn’t that be lovely? That way we all could avoid that long white knuckling period of parenting that doesn’t end until the age of 22.*
(*At least I hope it ends at 22. Lord, please let it end at 22.)More On