Dramatic title, huh?
My oldest is now officially a 6th grader. It is weird. SO WEIRD. I remember quite a bit from my childhood prior to 6th grade. However, no single school year marked my life like 6th grade. If someone were to ask me, “What was the worst grade?” My answer would be 6th grade. No hesitation. No question. Hands down 6th grade.
If you were to ask me if I would repeat 6th grade. If I had to do it again and not change a single thing. Would I? Absolutely. No hesitation. No question. Hands down I would.
Isn’t that how it works though? Sometimes the hardest things we go through mark us in a way we would never want to change. 6th grade was that year for me. And now I have a child the same age as I was back then. Needless to say, I’ve been thinking a lot about 6th grade lately.
Here I am…my first day of 6th grade. Try hard not to covet my bangs and perm. And outfit.
Where I live, 6th grade marks middle school. Several elementary schools feed into a middle school. It is a mixing of schools, friends, sports teams…young kids on the verge of adolescence trying to find their place and figure out who they are. It was 6th grade that I decided who I was going to be, which path I was going to go down, what kind of decisions I was going to make and ultimately who my friends would be.
I entered 6th grade with a group of friends. In a few short months it became clear I was no longer part of that group. Over the course of the school year I was the butt of a lot of jokes and pranks. These weren’t little jokes and pranks. These were the kind that brought me to tears daily. The kind that caused my mom to ask repeatedly if I wanted to change schools or be homeschooled. The kind that the police had to be involved. I had to give statements. My parents gave statements. The kind of ‘jokes’ and ‘pranks’ that today we would call bullying in awful way. I CANNOT imagine if social media existed back then. Now, as the parent of a 6th grader, I CANNOT imagine how hard it was for my parents to watch that year unfold.
In the midst of the horrible, I made two new friends…Nicole and Rachel. Nicole lived down the street. She would give me a heads up when she heard things were going to happen. She had my back and watched out for me. She became a safe place for me and a friend I treasure to this day.
Rachel would become one of my life long closest friends. I am confident that without Rachel I would not have stayed at that school. Not only did she help me make it through that year, she has helped me make it through every year since. Her influence on my life has been steady and strong. I would face every prank, endure every mean word and deal with every rumor again because it led to my friendship with Rachel. Hands down. No question. No hesitation.
In many ways 6th grade was the most pivotal year of my life. It was the year that I first really came to face to face with the reality that everything is not all sunshine and rainbows. I had to decide how I was going to respond when others intentionally hurt me. Truly, it was that year that my Christian faith became the foundation of my life. It was that year I decided the type of person I hoped to become, how I wanted to treat others, what kind of life I wanted to live. It was an intensely hard year and it was the necessary stage to set all the best years of my life. Hands down. No question.
My oldest just started 6th grade. It is wild to think. Sometimes I still see a little boy, but then I remember myself at his age and I am reminded he is at that verge where the boy becomes the young man. If the friends he has today remain his friends for the years to come, I couldn’t be happier. He is surrounded by solid, fun, great young men. I want their influence in his life. I also pray that along the way, in really hard seasons and really extraordinary ones, he would have a friend, like I had Rachel, by his side.
And whether he likes it or not, he’s always got me…
I’m often asked about how I get him to take pictures…I just ask. I let him read this post and asked if he would pose for a few pictures. It wasn’t on the top of his list of desirable things to do, but he also didn’t put up a fight. I don’t ask often and when I do I think he knows it is important to me. I also let him come up with a few ‘faces’ we should make. I am sure you can’t guess which faces an 11 year old boy wanted to make…
(he is laughing reading this because he didn’t think I would actually post those last pictures…I just won some mom points and maybe lost some readers!)