"What's the matter?"
"Well, you were happy a few minutes ago; what changed? We haven't even been talking or anything!"
I can only imagine how frustrated my mother must have been. I was 11 years old and pissed off at myself for not having enough courage to ask for the one thing that would alter my life at school. The one thing that would supposedly stop the teasing and poking and laughter. My own, personal life jacket for pre-teendom....
Not that I physically needed a bra. Not me. Not at 11. And there was the clincher. I didn't need it, but every other girl in class had one. As is common for Middle Schoolers, kids that have something different about them must be singled out and forced to conform.
I hated walking into my class everyday, knowing that my "friends" would surround me and feel my back to see if I was wearing a bra yet. Yep. They felt my back. No matter how I tried to angle my body in my chair, or stand at the end of lines. Somehow, throughout the day, I wouldn't be able to protect my back any longer and one of them would feel me up. The teasing and laughing and joking would then begin.
Let me tell you, I was a pretty crafty girl. I wore layers. I carried my backpack whenever possible. I even went so far as to wear a pair of my mother's pantyhose, pulled waaaaaay up and rolled into a bump so that there would appear to be a bra strap across my back. It actually worked for a little while, too! For a brief period of time in one blessed day, the teasing stopped! Until it was discovered that the "bra strap" was pantyhose and then? Then the teasing was a thousand times worse.
Why didn't I just ASK for a bra? I don't know. I had a conversation built up in my head that I would hold with my mom. I prepped myself and we were on our way to the mall and when we were there? I froze. I couldn't ask. I don't understand the reason as I know my mother would have bought me one! But I was 11 and I was scared. I tried, and tried, but the day wore on and, before I knew it, we had left the mall and were back in the car, on our way home. No bra. No end to the taunts. And a very pissed off 11 year old girl sitting beside her obviously confused mother.*
Basically, being 11 sucked. 12 was pretty horrific, too. It was confusing and messy and incredibly focused on living in The Present. Things that made me happy made me Extremely! Happy! while things that were less than great were the End of the World. Hormones careened out of control like a roller coaster in the night, and I was just along for the ride.
So, when my 12 year old wakes up, fully rested, in a house where he has a family that loves him, food to eat, and countless privileges all around him, but is still angry or disgusted with his life? I try to take a deep breath and remember that damn first bra. Yeah, this age pretty much sucks for most kids.**
And most parents.
*My poor mom. I put her through a lot of shit. I love you, Mom. Sorry.
**Don't get me wrong: there are some awesome highs to having a pre-teen. He has conversations that are actually interesting. I can count on him to be somewhat responsible and help out around the house. There is a lot of good in having a 12 year old. I have to remind myself of those good things when I am met with a harrumphing sigh and groan because I am on MY computer in the morning when he wants to play some game.
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