10. They are so cute to watch grow up and navigate becoming little women. Some try too hard to get there too fast, and I have to explain the difference between a classy and a terrible application of eyeliner. Not that I knew anything at their age. That’s when body glitter and colored mascara were the height of fashion. (Hot Topic, anyone?)
Their faces are awkward and sometimes they go home flatchested and come back the next week with tatas that they clearly weren’t prepared for. There are braces and glasses and acne. There is baby fat and pants that can’t keep up with their changes in height. But the transition from tiny, weird looking sixth grader into super cute eighth grader is a fun process. At least, for the outsiders. I don’t think any of us want to go back and do that one again!
9. They come to me for big sister advice about everything. Some are shy about it they start crying or have to write things on notes, but they want to share with me and look up to me. I feel so privileged to hold their little hearts in my hands.
8. They love baking stuff. I get cupcakes, cookies, brownies with decorations, frosting, sprinkles. Its so adorable.
7. They are figuring out clothes. We have “free dress” days and it is both a blessing and a curse. The curse is that the kids act totally crazy out of their uniforms. Its true. We’ve done scientific research and we have to write more referrals on free dress days. But its so fun to see what they think is cute, and they come to show me their outfits. Some of them clearly have been in uniforms so long that they aren’t sure what goes together. Of course, when I was their age, it was overalls and wearing your Jansport on your front with the whiteout all over it, so what did I know.
6. They love EVERYTHING! They use the word “love” so much, I’m not sure they know what it means. But they sure think they do. Every other sentence is “omg I LOVE your hair” “I LOVE that smell” “I LOVE Twilight!!!” I LOVE love!!” But when they write notes about love, which I invariably catch, they never actually write the word “love,” because why write something when you can replace it with a <3. Note: you should also use excessive amounts of !!!! when talking about <3!!!!!
5. Speaking of replacing words with images, junior high girls come up with code names for the boys they have crushes on, and are also very into inside jokes. This is because the dark underbelly of being a junior high girl is that you are also into feeling like you belong, which is best acheived by excluding others. There is no better way to do that than to invent something, so that no one else can know it.
So we’ll call our crush “Chris” by the code name “cupcake” and we’ll always “remember that time we were at your house, and blah blah blah?!?! OMG that was SO funny. Oh, you guys weren’t there, you wouldn’t get it.”
4. They are walking emotions. Which, even now, many years out of the “my body is changing so fast I almost pass out standing up” phase, I identify with very well. Their hearts on their sleeves, and you can watch the moment approaching where if you say just the right or wrong thing, they will burst into tears, because they are so present. Up and down all day long, from minute to minute. And lots of “I don’t even know why I’m crying!”
3. They can’t wait to have a boyfriend. This is the pinnacle of existence. Dating consists of never looking each other in the eye, texting and talking on facebook. Maybe passing notes, usually between friends. In fact, that’s probably how he asked you out. Over and over I repeat “there is more to life than boys.” But no. And so I give in and we spend hours in Study Hall Fridays matching up every couple possible and having them explain to me the complicated web of who has liked who for the last eight years they’ve been at school together, and I try to convince them to at least wait until high school.
2. They are hilarious. Sometimes they mean to be, sometimes not. By junior high, they have their little personalities in bloom, and they come up with some pretty witty stuff. Or silly stuff, like writing songs about our class pet, which is a pinata named “Ferdinand.”
1. They want you to love them. So bad. They want to please you. The girls want your attention, your affection, your praise. They still want to be hugged, especially when they’re upset. It’s an awesome responsibility to know that at the stage in their life where their self-esteem and sense of worth is truly developing, as their teacher, I can play a huge positive role in that.
I get to say “you are beautiful and its gonna get even better” and “you are smart/talented/funny” and most of all “you have a good heart and I love you.” They soak love up, and the most beautiful thing is to watch the face of a child, because they are still just girl-childs, react and glow to love.
Next week, I will try to come up with ten reasons I love junior high boys…is it the near thrill of summer that is bringing about such warm and fuzzy feelings towards my students? :) Methinks YES!