I distinctly remember being in 5th grade. It was hard sometimes, but overall, it was awesome.
One of my more vivid memories is being in the car while my mother was driving me somewhere. I remember that a feeling came over me, and I started feeling really grown up. I thought that I pretty much knew everything I’d need to know to live in the adult world. My parents were done raising me. Sure, I could still learn some stuff, but I remember feeling like I mostly understood the way things work. I knew that my mom would disagree, but I thought she was wrong. At the time, the feeling of confidence was pretty strong, and it felt great!
I don’t know if I’ve ever admitted that to anyone, but now it’s public on the internet. And now that I’m an adult, I can look back and see how much more I had to learn. In fact, as I got older, the world just got more and more complicated — not simpler as I had expected.
I don’t mean to imply that life was easy back then. I also have very strong memories of feeling left out and insecure. I spent lots of time worrying if other people liked me. I looked at my older sister and thought that she had everything compared to me. I thought she was prettier, smarter, funnier, and nicer than me. I felt that I had no hope to ever be as cool as her. I spent a lot of time and energy trying to live up to a standard that I thought I could never achieve.
Being a kid isn’t easy, but there’s nothing like that process of discovery. I love teaching 5th and 6th grade because it is a magical age. My students are hopeful and confident, but also fearful and cautious. They are each so ernest about becoming the adult that will one day take over their body. Teaching them reminds me how raw we all are.
Human beings can be really silly sometimes…
I’m an adult, and I’m still working on it.
That’s why I like hanging out with 5th and 6th graders. They remind me to keep having fun, but also to be ernest about solving the world’s biggest mysteries. Because they are truly important to solve. We’re all learning together every day.
So, thank to all of my 5th and 6th grade friends for inspiring me and teaching me every day! I hope you enjoy these photos which I dug up during my holiday visit with my family. Since I get to see you growing up, it seems only fair that you can get a peek into my youth.
To close this post (hopefully before completely embarrassing myself), I wanted to share this little video that I came across online recently. It compares life to music, and reminds us what it’s all really about — not the destination, but the journey itself. I didn’t know all this the first time around, so maybe that’s why I’m back in middle school getting to journey all over again.