Saturday, January 10, 2015

One of the things that has changed a lot since I was in junior high (middle school) in the 1950’s, is the role that each individual is allowed to play in the cultural life of a school’s community.

The barriers between what was acceptable for boys and girls have been torn down in fairly dramatic fashion. And while this has made life a little easier on those boys who might prefer gymnastics to football, and for girls who want other sports more than cheerleading, the world of middle school and emerging adolescence is still difficult and confusing.

For children right on the edge of puberty, emotions and sensitivities are very close to the surface. And every action seems to have huge ramifications, at least in the minds of the students involved.

I had noticed in the response among grade schoolers to “A Boy’s First Diary”, that the situations I described still resonated strongly today with kids of that age group. The world may have changed dramatically in the last sixty years but the emotional journey they take seems timeless. It does seem that the time frame for that trip has become more compressed because of the many trigger points addressed in the media, and also because children seem to physically mature earlier. Some things, however, remain the same..

When I wrote “Surviving Seventh Grade”, I was intentionally trying to deal with some of these universal issues. I focused on the physical and emotional impacts of adolescence, learning to deal with the social issues such as bullying and discrimination, and the relationships between parents and children (from the kid’s point of view).

One seemingly small item in the life of many kids is the need for braces. This can cause all sorts of physical and emotional trauma, especially during those adolescent years.

“Billy’s Accident” (Surviving Seventh Grade, 2013) deals with one small but embarrassing incident that I saw happen one day while “Billy” and I were hurrying from one class to the next.

Some times it is hard to keep your sense of humor.

Glenn K. Currie

Billy’s Accident

Billy was in hall traffic yesterday.
Everybody was rushing and it was crowded.
He got tripped from behind
And stumbled into Paulina.

He didn’t fall down completely.
He sort of caught himself on Paulina.
His braces got stuck
On the back of her skirt.

Paulina is the head cheerleader.
She’s a ninth grader.
She’s a “couple” with Bubba Bailey,
The captain of the football team.

Billy was stuck to her behind.
It took them a long time
To get his braces freed up.
Bubba and Pauline were not happy.

When they finally got loose,
Billy still had some wool
Sticking out of his braces.
Billy’s lucky to be alive.

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