Getting stuffed in lockers. Getting your lunch money stolen if you’re an idiot who still carries cash. Wet willies. What do all 3 of those have in common? They’re all done by middle school shitheads. It blows me away when adults are surprised by the actions and words of adolescents. Teachers, parents, and random strangers alike will go off on “kids today,” as if the advent of technology in the home has somehow made middle school children terrible people. However, these same adults are quick to forget the ways they themselves were just as god-awful as preteens today.
- They’re literal children. On average, a middle-school-aged student is 11 to 14 years old. They’ve just mastered the skill of basic communication. Empathy is a relatively new concept. Abstract thought? Forget about it.
- Puberty. Ah yes, that magical stage in life when your body goes through rapid and grotesque change. You’re getting stretch marks and zits everywhere. You’re in pain and horny at all times. At that point, you’ve shot back down to the bottom of Maslow’s Hierarchy. Any progress you’ve made psychologically as a human person is gone. You’re a caveman again. Just surviving every day by being a different version of the same asshole.
- Other shithead middle schoolers. Your worse enemy is not the devil staring back in the mirror. Oh no, there are hordes of people who also look like you and are going through the same thing, are full of pent-up aggression and sexual energy, and are eager to find an outlet. Escaping middle school without some form of sexual harassment or torment at the hands of a fellow 12-year-old is nothing short of a miracle.
- Your shithead siblings. Remember how your parents thought, “Josh needs someone to play with and grow up with. We should have more kids.” Great fucking idea. An older version of your 13-year-old to terrorize your current 13-year-old under the guise of “making them stronger.” When my parents were pregnant with me, they built up the reveal to my sisters by saying they had a “big surprise” for them, and like most children of the mid-90s, they thought they were going to Disney World. Surprise! So as a result of this disappointment, when my sister would get mad at me during my formative years, she would say, “It was either me or Disney World, so I hope you’re happy.”
- The economy. I was a 13-year-old during 2008. Remember 2008? The year everyone realized they absolutely could not have it all? Yeah. That’s why every Millennial is renting instead of buying.
- Your parents and other adults. Adults, in their fury to grow up and pretend like they know everything, repress their harrowing memories from middle school. As a result, they act surprised when these children, who are currently experiencing these harrowing moments, act like little assholes. If your boss walked into your office, told you you were ugly, peed on your desk, then asked for your opinion on his tie all because he was feeling self-conscious, you would not respond with, “I understand you’re upset.”
- Oh yeah, life. Life is one blizzard of shit after another. That’s the beauty of it; no matter what age, socioeconomic status, IQ, or ethnicity, life is absolutely terrible. Of course people aren’t going to be nice. Why do we expect prepubescents to be nice to each other when they’re constantly battling the worst parts of life every day, under the duress of hormones.
Life isn’t going to magically get better for these children when they become adults. Along with life’s pure randomness, fear of the unknown and hubris are the contributing factors of adults acting with the same level of empathy as menstruating 13-year-olds.