Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Like Lambs to the Slaughter

The Demis are both at the junior high this morning. Demigoddess the Younger, who will be entering 7th grade this fall, is having orientation, and Demigoddess the Elder, having attended the junior high last year, will be a sort of student helper, introducing the younger kids to the school, showing them how to open their lockers, where to buy the good pot, how to sneak firearms past the metal detectors, etc.

Demigoddess the Elder’s entry into junior high last fall was a milestone that was much more traumatic for me than it was for her. I think this was mainly because I, having been to junior high, knew what she was in for. She, on the other hand, being tender and innocent, couldn’t possibly imagine the hell that is seventh grade, even without Dipity-Doo, Smurfs, and an album of the year that includes Toto’s timeless hit, “Rosanna.”

Early in the school year last year, in a naive attempt to be a "good parent," I volunteered to help chaperone an event at the junior high. The event was for kids who had sold a certain number of fund-raising magazine subscriptions, and their reward was to be a limousine ride/pizza lunch. Demigoddess the Elder had sold the required number of magazine subscriptions, and I thought it would be fun to go with her. Plus, since I am still bitter that my high school boyfriend made me ride to prom in his mom’s brown Civic hatchback, I figured this was my chance to finally ride in style. Silly, silly me.

Eight or nine limos, of various makes and colors, were lined up in front of the school at lunchtime. Each held a good fifteen kids and two chaperones. As it happened, the one my daughter and her friends ended up in already had chaperones, so I was assigned to a sparkly purple Hummer limo, in which I was immediately pounced on by a mob of pre-teens who apparently had not eaten solid food in days and were willing to kill me to get at the pizza box I was carrying. Overwhelmed, I let the box go without a fight. I never even saw the actual pizza.

The driver took us on a tour through downtown Minneapolis, and then around the lakes, and other places too, but everything sort went black after a while, so I can't remember exactly. The rear of the vehicle had one small window on each side that opened, and there was sort of an upholstered island thing in between them. The majority of the kids—mostly girls wearing tiny clothes, too much makeup, and flip-flops—all piled onto this spot so they could roll down the windows and wave at people and yell at the top of their lungs the lyrics to the hip hop music that seemed to be blaring from every corner of my sparkly purple chariot through hell. These children, they reeked of hormones, and looked like a pile of hyperactive puppies on crack, squirming and screaming and kicking at each other.

A few kids hung back from this hogpile and sat awkwardly in their seats, talking to each other and looking out the windows. This latter group was much more appealing to me, obviously, but they were clearly the minority. From what I can tell, both my kids and most of their friends seem to be of the quieter variety, which, although they probably don't see it as such, I think is a good thing. I remember very clearly being 13 and tormented by the fact that I was not more like those screeching hogpile girls. Although the thought of it now still fills me with pubescent angst, I have learned since then that it’s the quiet kids sitting awkwardly by the windows who will eventually grow up into the most interesting adults.

That night I went home and told Demigoddess the Elder that I had developed an all-new appreciation for the world she lives in every day, and I was very, very sorry. She actually ended up having a great year, full of activities and new friends, and was surprisingly happy for the most part. So, while I’m much less afraid for Demigoddes the Younger than I was for her sister, I don’t believe I’ll be volunteering at the junior high again any time soon. I think I still have some residual brain damage.

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