She bounced into the living room and declared that she had found her “second school outfit.”
The white denim shorts had made the cut because big sister had worn them last year (works for me), her vintage, yellow t-shirt was approved for unknown reasons and somehow the matching yellow scrunchie had migrated from her crimped hair to sit around her wrist. Lit!
While I was trying not to balk at the word second or imagine the hours we would be spending accumulating the rest of the outfits needed, I was also holding my breath, willing the confidence to last a few more weeks until she walked into middle school for the first time.
And then what? Can I hold my breath for the entire nine months she walks those halls in her wishful new Vans? (While we are asking questions, can someone explain to me why styles are circular?)
As I look back over the years of sending Little Kids into that realm to become Big Kids, I point a finger at junior high for being a big jerk to kids. Although my kids’ personalities have all been different, as well as their interests and social circles, they have all struggled with those middle years in their own ways.
I believe our kids will eventually thrive in the upper years of school, but because we love them, we also want them to survive The Middle.
Here are 10 things I want to stuff into the backpack of every middle schooler this year:
- A sense of humor. “Kids, there are times you will be funny and times you will look funny. Get ready to laugh at both. Trust me, this is going to save your life.”
- Name tags. “Kids, your peers are going to slap names on you, some good and some mean. Pay them no mind; your real tags say Chosen and Fearless.”
- Smiles. “Kids, one of the greatest possessions you have to pass out is the underrated smile. They are rare and worth approximately $100 a piece in middle school.”
- Humility. “Kids, I know you know more now than you ever have in the your whole life. But your teachers know much more.”
- Silence. “Kids, remember how your teachers know much more? Shut it down.”
- Words. “Kids, when someone has been wronged, speak up. Not speaking up is being a part of the wrong.”
- Loyalty. “Kids, don’t diss on a friend to look cool. Ever. Ever. Evereverever.”
- Deodorant. “Kids, none of us really understand the pit situation but you are going to need more of this than you expected.”
- Their Power. “Kids, if you were even partially aware of how much power God has packed inside of your (in-process) bodies, you would walk taller because you are practically dynamite.”
- The Power of Others. “Kids, you know how powerful you are? Yeah well, every single kid in your school is also a walking stick of dynamite because they have been made to carry God’s very essence around with them. Let’s hope that helps with the locker room smell.”
For more on teaching kids about their identity, check out
What Every Kid Needs to Know about Their Identity.
The middle school years might be challenging for most of our kids, but the more they know who they are and what they have to offer the world, the better prepared they are to meet those challenges.
As for us parents, we can do this too. We were made for this. We can do hard things. Bring it, Middle School.
Also, pass the extra deodorant.