Thursday, August 4, 2011

When I was Twelve...

Who remembers old school Degrassi Jr High?
Who remembers being 12?


When I was twelve I moved to a brand new city over the summer and started junior high that same year. It was hard being new and not knowing anyone at school. It was harder that nobody knew I was new because there were 5 or so elementary schools that fed into the junior high.

I made it through my first two periods just fine. I’m pretty strong that way. I can stand a couple of hours of being ignored, trying to figure out where my classes were (for the first time ever!), trying to determine if my outfit/hair/make-up (make-up!) was suitable, and being told over and over that “homework is going to be much more difficult in jr. high than it was in elementary school.”

Third and fourth periods were a little harder because those kind of things can wear on a person.


I sat all by myself the entire hour. Right now that sounds luxurious but for a social twelve-year-old girl who doesn’t know ANYONE, it was hell. I had made exactly 0 friends and, with a flair for drama like I had, I was bound to spend the rest of my life that way. I was despairing.

And to add insult to injury, my next period was gym.

First gym class in jr. high.

OK, first off I had to figure out how to open my combination gym locker.
This was not something I was comfortable with. It gave me chills just to think about it. No wait, first I had to find my gym locker.

Then I had to change into my gym clothes in the locker room. I was about as comfortable with my body as, well, a twelve-year-old girl. Changing in the locker room was more than scary. We are talking about the years between, developed and not developed.

And as silly as it was, I was paranoid that I would be missing part of my gym clothes or put something on wrong. Then, what to do once you’re dressed? We go where? We sit where? For how long?

It was traumatizing.

I remember sitting on my number out on the basketball courts and feeling like I wanted to cry. In fact, I bet my eyes were brimming with tears.

And then this blonde girl who was sitting nearby asked me what my name was and told me that her name was Katherine and that the brunette girl next to her was also named Katherine.

I smiled. A real smile. For the first time that day.

I had a friend.
I would make it through jr. high.

I am still friends with Katherine to this day. I don’t think she could ever really understand what that simple act of kindness meant to me that day.

My twelveth year got better. Not much better, it was still jr. high, but better.


A great age to ask me about because that’s the year I had the best teacher in the history of the world. His name was Mister Kerr and I sure wish I could find him again to thank him. You see, every morning at the beginning of class he had twenty minutes of Positive Thinking. He made all of us feel like we were fantastic people and that we could succeed. One day we threw a surprise party to thank him for being such a phenomenal teacher. We were supposed to have a math test that day, but he skipped the test and let us spend the whole day in party mode.

This was also the year I wore makeup for the first time. Much to the chagrin of my Mother—and the great happiness of me! My Grandma (her mother) was an Avon lady and she gave me the makeup. What was a mother to do?

Oh, and yeah, yeah, I wanted a skateboard so bad for my B-Day. Sooo bad. So the morning of my birthday my Mom gave me my present. It was small, way too small for a skateboard to be inside. I opened it up and found nylons! I’d been begging my Mom to let me wear nylons and there they were. But oh, my dismay at the absence of a skateboard.

Well, my Mom sent me on a hunt for the rest of my birthday, and I ended up in the cab of Old Yeller, the pickup. There on the seat was a present big enough to be a you-know-what. I ripped it open and found me an orange skateboard! Wahoo! I had a lot of fun on that thing, but I never got very good. Not good at all.

Actual picture of Brenda riding her skateboard at 12

What do you remember about being 12?


  1. Loved the post, ladies! So fun. And I can totally relate to that scary feeling of being alone in Jr High. Although I wasn't new, all my friends had a different lunch than me and sitting alone at lunch was the worst! Add to the fact that I was super shy... not good. But then I met a girl who lent me a pencil and we became good friends.
    Now, I need to go shake off the memories of Jr High!

  2. I can relate to all that! I was a Navy brat, so moving and starting new schools was nothing new - we moved all the time! You get used to making new friends, even as shy as I was. But 12 is such an awkward age for a girl! You're somewhere in between childhood and adulthood and your body is changing and all that.... Great post, girls!

  3. Such a fun and fantastic post, I loved it! Man, being twelve... that was a great year for me. I had a fantastic English teacher who pretty much fostered my love of writing from a hobby into a lifetime goal. :) That was also the year I learned to stand up for myself, and I haven't had a teacher like me since! (ha)

  4. Such fun stories! I think I'm blocking most of those years....

  5. Great post! I never went to Junior High - my school went from pre-kindergarten to grade 8 -then it was off to high school. I do remember Degrassi though - quite fondly.


  6. While I love this post, I now remember things that I tried to push into the dark recesses of my mind for a reason. Being 12 was awful. It seemed like all my friends split to 2 groups. The jerks and the nice people. Of course I went with the nice people but jerks suck. Luckily 8th grade was better. 9th grade sucked again. Agh - there is no happiness in junior high school.

  7. OMG, I was always so afraid I'd have to sit and eat by myself. I don't know why I dreaded it so much. There was one girl who was so cool, she sat by herself on purpose, and I wanted to have her confidence so badly.

  8. Shelly, dear Shelly! I am faint with relief and happiness that your Junior High turmoil had such a happy ending! I was on pins and needles until you told us about Katherine.

    And hey, where on this here planet did you find that photo of me on my rad skateboard! I thought all copies of that were lost! Ah, those were the days.

    So ya'll are talking about being in Junior HIgh when you were 12—I was in the last grade of elementary school, so life was grand. And Shelly—this is really crazy—after reading your story, I thought about how I had just moved that year too and I was the new kid in school. I ALSO met my best friend Cathy right away who is amazing and cheerful and wonderful and she's still my best friend!

    Poor, poor Shelly! You must be mighty sick of me! I mean four days of me. I hope you will recover from Brenda overload. Go lounge in a hammock, drink lemonade, and read a good book (but not one where one of the character's name is Brenda) and fortify yourself after the deluge of moi.

  9. Well, I was lucky to start high school (at age 12, going on 13, as it is here in Western Australia) already knowing some people, but on my first day I got this massive smile from a girl called Christina, who said, "Hi, how are you?!" in our first science class. She really helped to break the ice!


Comments are the sunshine butter on the toast of life.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...