Sassy Pants First Day of Middle School

Well – Sassy Pants went off to middle school today and my mind has been on overdrive. I am glad school is back in session. My sanity has really been tested this summer. Lots of drama and no vacation equals insomnia, anxiety, twitching, snapping, and under eye baggage. “School” on the surface is a good thing. I’ve sent my daughter off to her first day of middle school to get educated and socialized. But when you dig deeper, school is not so great. It is filled with young people making bad choices and being mean to one another. Cliques. Mean girls. Bad teachers. Stress. Vending machines. What have I done?

I should add that Sari has only ever had exceptional teachers. But I know bad ones are out there and I was letting my hysteria run its course.

My Sari is an individual. Which I like. But she also has low self esteem which makes her a follower sometimes and vulnerable to the backlash she will get for not liking the same clothes and music as the other girls. She gets lonely and wishes to be more accepted but she doesn’t want to pretend to be something she is not in order for that to happen. I get it. I really really do. I love her sassiness and uniqueness, but I want people to be nice to her. Even the ones who suck and would judge her for being different than them. I don’t want her to feel lonely.

Sassy Pants is very against labels. I once attempted to start a discussion about a guy we saw downtown. He had white contacts in and some crazy monster movie hair. I wasn’t judging at all – I sincerely wondered if he was in character for something or if this was his every day look. Pantsy threw a fit and told me she was disappointed to see me being judgmental.

With the same curiosity, though, I asked her, “What would you call your look?” I got the usual – you can’t put me in a box response. I told her I wanted to understand it better so that I could confidently pick up clothes and accessories if I’m out and see a good deal on something she’d like. She said “fine then. I am skate punk rock emo goth artist.” Okay then. Shopping just… got… easier?

Although it was true that I wanted to understand what she liked so that I could help her perfect her look,  I also wanted to try and understand how SHE saw herself so that I could keep a look out for any red flags. All the black clothes and her appreciation of creepy music and scary movies, even though her demeanor is for the most part cheerful and sunny, has me on alert for potential trouble down the road.

No I absolutely do not think that all emo kids are cutters or that all goths want to commit suicide. I had similar tastes when I was a kid. And I think some of her looks are really cute. I actually got her to pair a plaid skirt with a graphic tee shirt – to add a little femininity to what she’s got going on – and she surprised herself by loving it. But I also know that, alternative scene of the moment aside, adopted kids and kids who have suffered trauma are prone to depression and dark periods. As a parent I want to be as aware as I can of what’s going on with her and how she’s feeling. I don’t intend to ever try to “change” her as she comes of age and tries to figure out who she is, where she fits in, and why other families didn’t want her. But I’ll be there to guide her, listen, and be a safety net as she blossoms. I’m not expecting the worst by any means, but my eyes are wide open.

Unfortunately society isn’t as kind. I know that I have sent her off to school today where many of her girly girlfriends from last year will snub her today. They started calling her “goth” at the end of last year as her pink and purples changed to dark colors and skateboard styles.

I read an article today about kids and goths and such. A commentor said that he would rather see a “knocked up teenager” in school than any kind of alternative kid. His explanation was that the pregnant teenager represented the beginning of a new life, while the goth/emo/etc. kid was ruining hers. It occurred to me then… Is it more socially acceptable to be pregnant in school, or even a mean girl, than it is to be artistic and different?

And I know Sari. She will get in the car smiling and say, “Great!” when I ask her how school was, because she wants me to be happy. Then she will cry it out in the night and start fresh and hopeful the next day.

I suppose I do sound kind of negative as I read this back. But she has been subject to some pretty intense bullying the last couple of years, and that was just based on her unique views of the world when she was still a little pink and girly. Middle school, for better or worse, is a bigger place, and she’ll have access to more diversity. Right? This is a good thing I think. It’s almost time to pick her. up. I’m excited!

If you could look back and label yourself by today’s buzz words, what would you be? Prep? Skate punk? Emo? Goth? Scene? Nerdy? How did you fit in?