Middle Mania


So, the past few months has had me in the middle of a lot of chaos. My advisor changed schools, the announcement of which happened right when I was about to take my oral candidacy exams and there was a slight debate about the timeline of my dissertation.  That was resolved, finally.

Then, the school year started. While I hunted for data and filled tables and wrote really boring science stuff, my middle child started middle school.

In all her years of school so far, she’s been my independent child. Suddenly my low-maintenance child is requesting help with EVERYTHING. My sister, who teaches middle school, assures me it is a common phase which will pass, but it drives me nuts. While things appear to be waning, for awhile every night it felt as if I had middle school homework.

For full disclosure, I hated, loathed, and despised middle school. In all three years, the only thing I really liked was choir and the fact that I finally made a few friends. I did my time, so to speak, and having to muddle through pre-algebra again is not my idea of fun. It isn’t the math that is tedious, so much as explaining things over, and over, and over, because Miss Diva has misplaced her confidence.

I sympathize. I do. Twelve is a tough age, but it is tough for her while it was hell for me. She’s pretty, popular, and an excellent student. I was gawky, a social outcast, and criticized for that excellent student status. Everything I did was wrong, so in many ways, it gave me a freedom I didn’t know I had. She’s a sweet child, but at times I see the girls I went to school with– the ones that treated me like less than dirt. She worries about her hair and nails, about looking cute and not making mistakes. For me the challenge is teaching her to find confidence and independence that will last a lifetime while learning to share some of her interest, even if I’m only doing so for her sake.

So, I let her do my nails, even if they are totally not my style. I take her shopping, even though clothes shopping ranks pretty low on my “List of ways to have fun”. I also check her math homework when requested, but there may be a glass of wine or a mohito involved. I got through three semesters of calculus, differential equations, and statistics. I can do pre-algebra even when buzzed.  I can even do math while I write or inform Miss Drama that baths really ought to be a habit and tell Mr. Smarty-Pants that no, he cannot be online until he’s passing ALL his classes.

Have I mentioned Mr. Smarty-Pants is ALSO in middle school? Yes. 8th grade. This is his last chance before high school for him to get his act together. He’s trying–mostly. He had all A’s, aside from the big fat F in literature and a D in Science. He’s nearly brought the D to a B. I’m not sure much can be done with the F. If he’s passing by the end of the quarter, that’ll be a miracle. On the bright side, he finally has a teacher that gets it. He’s lazy if it isn’t something he likes.

I think he was Tom Sawyer in a former life.

The silver lining in all of this? Mr. Smarty-Pants will be in High School before Miss Drama gets to Middle School.  Then again, Miss Diva will still be in Middle School, so maybe that’s more like a brass lining.

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