Panic Attack: The Junior High Years

What I have just been through. I can’t even. I think it’s pretty impressive that I’m even functioning in a close-to-normal capacity after the trauma that I experienced last night. Yesterday, for the first time ever, I attended a Junior High Open House.

Now, I don’t know about your junior high experience, but mine left something to be desired. Namely, a healthy self image. And now that I have a kid who is in junior high (WTF?!? How am I old and living in the future?), and I had to walk through his entire schedule and sit in junior high desks in junior high classrooms and…well, I don’t think trigger is a strong enough word.

It didn’t start out all that well to begin with. We had an extremely hectic day yesterday with orthodontist appointments and extracurricular commitments. I had to meticulously plan the driving situation down to the minute. I thought I had it all under control. I was able to feed the kids in the 10 minutes I had allotted for dinner before I had to leave, and I foolishly believed it was all good.

Until I parked at the junior high, got out of the car, and started heading into the building. I realized then that I had no idea where the hell I was going because we were to go to our kid’s first period class and I FORGOT TO BRING HIS SCHEDULE.

I frantically texted my kid and begged him to take a picture of his schedule and send it to me immediately. I was at his mercy. Luckily, he has a pure heart and sent it to me without question. He did not realize that he had such leverage at that moment that he could have asked for anything and I’d have no choice but to comply. As I write this, I could have guys digging up my backyard preparing for our new in-ground pool. I really dodged a bullet on that one.

I made it to first period and, once that was over, had exactly four minutes to make it to the next class. If you know me at all in real life, then you know that I am not late. Ever. And if I happen to be, I basically have an anxiety attack.

The halls were super congested with parents and all I wanted to do was get to the next class. They were not moving fast enough. I was screaming on the inside. So loud.

Language Arts was okay, as was Social Studies. My anxiety was slowly building just being in that place, but it was manageable. Until Gym/Health class.

All the parents had to sit in the Health classroom and the gym teacher stood up front and told us about the curriculum. She was a perfectly nice, lovely lady, but for some reason all I wanted to do was get out of there because I was scared that she’d force me to start playing some kind of sport and then I’d make a goal for the opposing team (that never happened; if I went to junior high with you, you are wrong, I never scored a soccer goal for the other team and you have a faulty memory).

And then the gym/health teacher told us that our kids would be learning about the human reproductive system and, as a result, would be watching the 1982 PBS production “The Miracle of Life.” I literally blurted out in front of 40 parents, “Oh my God. They made us watch that in health!” I am, to this day, scarred by that particular film. It shows a woman giving birth, and all I can recall are the screams from my fellow classmates as we watched every single part of a baby being born. In fact, the “miracle” in the title refers to the fact that I have children of my own, because I vowed on that day in seventh grade that I would never in my entire life put myself through that horror show.

In a daze, I made my way over to science class, then French, then math. I’m going to be straight with you: I almost threw up. All this talk about grades and tests and Bunsen burners was just too much. That, coupled with horrific memories of social pressure and peer ridicule, made me want to run away and hide in a closet. I think the 12 to 14-year-old Meredith lying dormant inside me has some issues that need to be addressed.

At least the Open House is over with for this year. I’m not sure what I’m going to do about it next year. I should really be a mature adult and get over this for the sake of my kid and his education, but I don’t know if I have the mental fortitude. I guess time will tell.



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