Middle School is a feast of firsts:
- first time to switch classes
- first time to attend a school dance (or skip a school dance)
- first time to pick elective classes
- first time to date (or to notice that absolutely everyone else is dating)
- first time to be part of school sports
- first time to go through tryouts for school sports
- first time to be part of school performance groups
- first time to audition for school performance groups
- first time to live in semester-driven rhythm
- first time to live under the cloud of “final grades”
- first time to have some input in their own decisions
- first time to navigate abstract thinking
- first time to face p-u-b-e-r-t-y (such a weird word…and thing)
- first time to experience the power of hormones
- first time to take a class trip
- first time to be defined by friend group more than family group
- first time to face the flurry of social media
- first time to truly believe they are grown up (and they do believe it).
And so many more.
I saw my first fistfight in middle school. I’ll never forget it. It destroyed my sense of safety and friendship.
I heard my first over-sexualized conversation in middle school. I’ll never forget it. It shattered my understanding of love and goodness.
I experienced my first intensely emotional rejection in middle school. I’ll never forget it. It disoriented my sense of trust and relationship.
Middle school firsts shape many things about a young adolescents’ identity, often in ways that are difficult and even dangerous. That’s why we must create another set of firsts for them:
- first time an adult takes a sincere interest in their ideas and thoughts
- first time an adult takes them seriously as human beings
- first time they are sincerely listened to
- first time someone doesn’t laugh at their questions about life
- first time they are embraced for who they are and who they are becoming
- first time they hear about God’s love for them
- first time they hear about what Real Life was intended to be like
- first time they experience genuine hope for the future
And so many more.
Middle school really is a feast of firsts, and the world has set a very large banquet table for our kids. They are likely to indulge in what’s set before them.
We must set an even larger Real Table so they can feast on truth, love, joy, and hope – not just for the first time, but hopefully for a lifetime.