Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Middle School Blues

The kid spent 5 hours on homework last night.  I'm willing to bet that most CPA's don't take that much work home with them during tax season.  5 hours.  We could've watched 20 episodes of Adventure Time!  We could've driven to Vegas.  We could've flown to Indiana.  We could've sat through a directors cut of Gone With the Wind...with a one hour intermission.  5 hours is a long time. 

Never ending homework.  That's part of our new normal, along with locker combinations, changing clothes in gym class, passing periods, detentions, and those amazingly awkward school dances. 

Middle School.  It's just as bad as I remembered it. 

I'll grant you, I have a slightly different perspective on the thing this time around.  Yet still, I think middle school is akin to one of those exotic rites of passage where 11-year-olds are forced to walk on hot coals, mutilate themselves, battle a wild boar, whatever, to prove they are grown.  The catch is that 11-year-olds aren't grown.  They aren't even a little bit adult.  At all. 

My kid mastered his locker on the first day.  He isn't humiliated in PE.  He has yet to have a swirly.  I guess I should be happy about that.  And I am, but I'm still not a big middle school fan.  

I'm a huge believer in the old African/Hillary Clinton proverb "It takes a village to raise a child."  The village we have built for our children is like a beautifully manicured, gated community somewhere in the hills, with security guards, supportive neighbors, and friendly old ladies who hand out king sized candy bars on Halloween.  Our village kicks ass.  The middle school fits in there too.  It's like the 'new money' neighbor down the road who throws loud parties, and doesn't follow the HOA guidelines.  Though it's lawn sculptures are uglying up the place a bit, I'm sure it serves a purpose in our village.  For the life of me, I don't know what that purpose is. But, I'm sure it serves a purpose. 

I know what you're thinking.  Middle school is necessary to prepare a child for the rigors of high school.  I know you'll tell me they are teaching time management, organization, and self-reliance.  (It's just like you to take their side.)  You'll tell me that they are fostering my son's independence.  I understand those things.  They're all important.  But he's 11.  And, it seems a little much.  

I think what bothers me most about middle school isn't the wasting of precious family time for mind-numbing assignments, or the lack of the one-on-one attention I'm used to from teachers.  It isn't that I'm worried about rabid 8th graders roaming the halls, or the giant decrease in parental involvement.  (Though in my head, those are all pretty sound reasons to hate middle school.)  It's that middle school is turning my little baby boy into an adult.  It's forcing him to brave the hot coals.  He's battling wild boars or whatever every day, and I can't help him.  I just get to hear about it later.  And for that, I hate middle school.  Just like I did when I was 11.  

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