Girl has her promotion ceremony from junior to senior high this week. We've shopped for a dress and shoes, and she has plans to get a pedicure with several friends the day before her event. From my perspective, it seems like she's enjoyed her 7th and 8th grade school years. Sadly, some of my worst school memories took place when I was in junior high.
The 7th grade began with vivid memories of how awful PE was. Itchy polyester gym shorts and the embarrassing scoliosis screening made up the start of the school year, where all the girls lined up and took off their shirts. A late bloomer, I was still four years away from puberty and didn't own a bra or undershirt; I was the only girl standing there naked from the waist up. Thankfully, it was only girls but the PE teacher made me tie a sweatshirt across my chest for 'modesty' - which was almost worse than standing there without a shirt.
This was the same PE teacher that called me out during attendance for wearing a dirty sweatshirt by asking, "Is that a favorite, hon? Won't let Mom wash it?" The sleeves of my sweatshirt were grey with dirt, but I looked at her like she was insane. My sweatshirt was dirty because we didn't own a washer or dryer and I couldn't be bothered to wash it. Collecting enough coins, hauling all our clothes and losing a whole afternoon at Wash 'n Fun made the task seem insurmountable. The way I looked at it, I was lucky to wear clean underwear daily. A dirty sweatshirt was the least of my worries.
Although my grooming and hygiene were considerably better by the 8th grade, my judgement was not. I decided to take it upon myself to fight someone else's battle by slipping a threatening note in a girl's locker who was giving a friend a hard time. The letter described how I would 'kick her ass' and that she'd 'better watch out and leave so-and-so alone'. Although I was questioned about the letter, I denied that I had any involvement. This set in motion a chain of events that was only the beginning of the bad decisions I would make over the next three years.
By the time I was 16-years old, I was certain that I wouldn't live to see eighteen. The saddest part about that was that I didn't particularly care. My theme song was Def Leppard's Pyromania, "It's better to burn out, then fade away..."
Obviously, I survived my 18th birthday (and then some) in large part due to the amazing foresight of my sophomore health teacher. He'd invited a panel of speakers to talk about alcoholism and their recovery, and it was perfect timing. By that summer, I cleaned up and have been sober since.
A few summers ago, this same teacher was the guest of honor at a party where I celebrated 25-years of sobriety. If someone would have told me when I was sixteen that I'd one day become a stay-at-home parent, and sell Girl Scout cookies with my daughter in front of Ralph's on a Friday afternoon - my head would have burst into flames. All of this is to say that I feel gratitude for those tumultuous times because I appreciate the goodness in my life that much more. Schmaltzy, but true.
Congratulations, Girl. I am so very proud of you and all you've accomplished. Keep going and growing.
All my love,