Someday in the future, when time machines are invented, these are some things I wish I could go back and say to middle-school-me as Valentine’s Day anxiety is building up.
#1 Mr. Right isn’t like the Santa of Valentine’s Day. He doesn’t just pop right out of nowhere, lavish you with gifts, and ask you to marry him, especially when you’re eleven years old and being snotty to your mom about being nice to the weird girl at school.
Ha! You probably ARE the weird girl at school, but no one has the heart to tell you. I definitely was.
When I was eleven, I got in a fight with my mom because I did NOT want to give treats to everyone in my class. I wanted to pick and choose the “cool kids” and only be nice to them. My mother insisted that I be nice to everyone. I did so, but I did it grudgingly.
Now I look back and see how foolish and petty I was. I missed out on an opportunity to show some actual, real love to other human beings who were in tough spots in life. Instead, they were judged by their clothing, the way they spoke, how smart I thought they were . . . all things they had no control over. It did not occur to me that kids don’t remember the clever pun on their scratch and sniff Valentine, but they definitely remember feelings of being neglected, ignored, embarrassed, or shunned.
I was treating others in a way I thought would make me feel better about myself. Can you imagine if me and Mr. Right had met that Valentine’s Day? We would NEVER have given each other the time of day. Which leads me to . . .
#2 The people you are forced to be around in elementary and middle school are seldom the people with whom you spend your entire life.
Don’t spend too much emotion wondering what they think of you.
Oh, wait! They gave you a Valentine that says, “Be Mine”? HALF THE VALENTINES IN THE WORLD SAY THAT! And their mom probably made them give it to you!
On one hand, buying teddy bears and chocolates for EVERY person you see during your Valentine’s Day does sound fun. However, if you’ve got that much cash around, it would probably be better spent on an Epiphany Espresso gift card for your favorite teacher. She’s the one who’s going to write that really nice college recommendation for you. (Thank you, Betti Stambaugh! I probably owe you a Humble Coffee gift card. Or maybe Hobby Lobby?).
And, here we are at . . .
#3 If at first you don’t succeed, just give up. It’s no use embarrassing yourself.
My Grandpa gave me that advice. At the time, I knew it was a joke and found it hilarious. We don’t give up just because we fail at something. We try and try again. Or better yet, we say, “Do. Or do not. There is no try” (Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back).
However, I think in this instance his advice was spot on.
You see, there was this one guy who was super cute. I really wanted him to like me. WAY too much time was spent thinking about how someday I would write my name with his last name attached to the end of it. I should have been off inventing ways to help people after the Great Flood of 1993, or learning Mariah Carey’s new song, but I was determined to make him notice me.
Then, I saw him with a girl in the parking lot, and they were HOLDING HANDS (which used to be a really, super big deal back then, but maybe it’s not anymore). Anyway, it was definitely time for me to give up on him. Except I didn’t. I was mad at him. And I was mad at her. I still wanted him to notice me. Only now I wanted him to pick me over her because I was better than her. Plus, he owed that to me because he had hurt my feelings by picking her first. (How convoluted is that!?!) I wish I had just followed my Grandpa’s advice. Just give up! You’re not heading off down the aisle this instant anyway. Don’t make a fool of yourself over things that are out of your control!
Now, for all the moms of middle school girls who may or may not be as (boy) crazy and weird as I was . . . here’s my advice for you . . .
Yeah, I got nothin’, except maybe this.
Help your middle schooler learn to be nice. (Not only is it important to realize how our actions affect others’ feelings, but it’s a skill that also pays off in life later on as well.)
Your middle schooler’s teachers probably need more coffee.
Teach your kiddo that sometimes giving up is the best option. (Sorry Yoda.)
I know your advice is better than mine, so let me hear it! I need all the help I can get!