Returning to School: The Seventh Grade Blues
A. returned to school a couple of weeks ago without much fanfare or fuss. Last year, the school system made a big deal of the rising sixth graders coming to their new middle school. They had they own open house times, their own half-days of school -- they pretty much had full run of the comings and goings of the schoolrooms until they'd settled in and figured out how things worked. A. really, really loved middle school almost immediately -- partially, I imagine, because she got preferential treatment.
This year, however, has been pretty bland by comparison. The seventh graders go to their classes, get their supplies, and begin their school year pretty much exactly where they left off last year -- and nobody even raises an eyebrow.
Don't get me wrong -- this is probably for the best. It would be a little absurd to assume that the school should sing and dance and throw a big party every year any student returns to school. Not to mention the issues of entitlement such activities would likely inspire. But it definitely helps to explain why A.'s first impression of school this year is pretty much along the lines of: "Meh."
A.'s favorite subject remains solidly Social Studies, and her least favorite subject remains solidly Math. I suppose this is the point in childhood development where teenagers start creating patterns and preferences that they will keep for the rest of their lives, but I also think it's interesting that A.'s opinion of the subjects is very much tied into the teachers, and while her Math teacher "isn't mean; she just doesn't smile or cheer me up, and she won't give me hugs," her Social Studies teacher "cheers me up and lets me be her assistant." It makes me wonder if there's some type of profiling going on -- if Social Studies teachers as a whole tend to be more sweet an nurturing, while Math Teachers tend to be more practical and distant. It also make me wonder if there isn't profiling happening at a much deeper level -- in other words, her Social Studies teacher sees that A. got good grades last year and excelled at her TCAP testing in Social Studies, while her Math teacher sees that she struggled with her grades last year and didn't do so well on her TCAP testing in Math.
This is all highly hypothetical, however. And, it doesn't really matter. A. does like all of her teachers, and seems to understand that her Math teacher is just "more serious" and she doesn't take it personally. The biggest issue I forsee happening is problems with classmates. There seems to be several kids who like to tease A. Nothing hard-core, but enough to be irritating. The biggest issue is that they will do things to tease her, and then they will immediately pretend to be doing something else -- they "pretend emotion" to try to circumvent getting in trouble so that no one knows they were just teasing A. I imagine this has to be highly confusing for A., considering that you have people who act one way and then immediately pretend to be something completely different. That would be disorienting for anyone. But A. has pretty much decided that they are just "dwelling in their stupidity" and she can't understand how anyone could be so "ignorant." In other words, she's developing a cynical view of humanity in general that I also harbored when I was her age.
I think that may just be part of the "misfit gothy teen" package, however.
So far, so good. I suppose I'll know more once the grades start coming in and if I get any communication from parents. I was such a helicopter parent last year, and I really want to get away from hovering over every aspect of A.'s life. I'd like for her to start taking responsibility for her own self, now. That being said, I also don't want to be completely absent and involved in what is going on with her. It's a tough line to toe.
In related news, I can't believe kids are still using fancy and expensive graphing calculators. Hasn't our technology advanced to the point where we don't need those anymore?
Ah, the trials and tribulations of middle school teenagers.