Friday, June 18, 2004


I tried to get to bed at a reasonable hour last night, but I got sucked into an HBO show called "Middle School Confessions". I think it was because I just talked to a friend who's daughter graduated from elementary school yesterday and next year she will be headed to middle school, or Junior High School, as they called it back in my time. Her daughter is 11, and although she's a very mature little girl, she still seems to my eyes to be very much a child. We were talking about how much things change from elementary school to middle school.

Middle School Confessions certainly drove that point home. And it made me really glad that I don't have kids, nor do I plan to. Oh my God! The children that were interviewed for this show were mostly 13, though some were 11 or 12. The show started with a look at sexual activity amongst middle school kids. That's right sexual activity! One little blonde girl with big blue eyes was talking about how she made out with a boy and he put his hand down her pants and fingered her and while she was initially taken aback she did enjoy it. But then her mother got an annonymous letter from another parent who told her that her daughter was gaining a reputation and, well, that sucked. But she and her mom were able to talk about it and that made them closer. Her mother was interviewed and discussed how shocked she was by the whole thing. When I think back to Junior High School I know that this kind of activity was going on - we were making out and there was definitely discussion about "banging" or fingering as it was referred to by these kids. Girls who did that were considered loose, so I guess things haven't changed that much.

What shocked me was when the little blonde girl and her friend Amber started discussing oral sex and how they give boys blow jobs so that the boys will like them! And they don't consider that sex! They also went into how much they do not like it if the boys try to touch them "down there". Then there are a group of girls discussing "oral" and how it makes them feel closer to these boys in their relationships. Huh? Then we're at a party and we see these same girls interacting with boys, dirty dancing on each others legs, and it was just too creepy because while a lot of these girls had clearly developed early and some, like Amber, were incredibly articulate as to seem older than her years, the boys looked like they were a bunch of tall 8 year olds. None of them seemed to have even brushed up against puberty yet. I tried really hard to remember what the boys looked like when I was in Junior High and that seemed about right - they still seemed like boys to me, fun to kiss, but not adult enough for sex. I was curious about sex, but only in theory - in reality it terrified me.

These girls are blow job pros at thirteen! And the boys they're blowing look like they all play little league. I thought about calling my friend and telling her to tune in, but then I imagined her laying awake all night in abject terror of the day she drops her daughter off at middle school next September. Better she should just enjoy her summer.

Next up were a group of 11, 12 and 13 year olds who are gay! They know they're gay and they've talked to their parents and friends about it. We go with the to LIGALY - a club for Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth where they play pool and talk and hang out like kids. These kids were so articulate about their feelings and thoughts. Moreso than most adults, but what they were saying is that they feel isolated and alone in their schools, that they have no friends and no one to talk to about what they're feeling as they become aware of the sexuality. The parents are interviewed and thank God every one of them was accepting of their child, but at a loss as to how to make it better. One mom gave her daughter permission to leave her classes 5 minutes early so she doesn't get picked on in the halls. She goes to school a bit before it gets out so she can pick her up and take her home. This little girl looks like any other little girl - she's slender with red hair in ponytails and wire rimmed glasses. Her skinny legs amble along as she heads to her mom's car under a huge backpack. She is so accepting of who she is, and not for the first time before this show is over, I start to cry.

And it only gets worse when we go into the next segment on depression and suicide in pre-teens and teenagers. It opens on a photograph of a bunch of smiling, happy boys and then we hear the story on one of them who, upon entering middle school, was shunned. He could not figure out why his "friends" no longer wanted anything to do with him and why, if he joined them at their table in the cafeteria, they would all get up and walk away! I wondered why too! He didn't seem like he'd changed that much over the summer. Anyway, after he started going on crying jags for no reason in the middle of his classes his parents finally took him to a psychiatrist, who pointed out that since this boy's father had been suffering from depression since he was a pre-teen odds were that he'd inherited his father's biology. He started on meds and started feeling better and was able to make new friends. One of the things that I thought was so interesting about this kid is that he stated that when he saw the psychiatrist with his parents in the room he didn't feel comfortable opening up about how he'd thought about killing himself because he didn't want to upset them. He did however write on a questionnaire that he had had those thoughts. His parents were flabbergasted. I was flabbergasted. But then, I have a friend whose child is 8 and has Asperberger's and he has talked about suicide. I just cannot fathom being in that kind of psychic pain when you are only a child.

The next kid featured is Jordie, who comes from a poor, single parent family in Vermont. He is 13 and about 6 feet tall, his head and hands seeming to large for his lanky frame. He's like a puppy that's acheived full height but has yet to fill out. Except this puppy is more like Cujo. Jordie is violent and angry - he gets in fights. He looks like one of those kids that shot up Columbine and it seems that is the direction he's headed. He drives an ATV that flies the confederate flag and proudly refers to himself as a redneck. It's easy to imagine him in 4 years, having been recruited by the Aryan nation, covered in swastikas, burning a cross at a white power pancake breakfast. When they interview the kids he goes to school with they say things like, "he smells like he rolls in manure before he comes to school". Jordie lives on a dairy farm. The kids comment on his clothes, "he wears cheap stuff from Wal-mart and places like that." Jordie's mom is barely making ends meet. The kids go on and on about how they wear Abercrombie and cool shoes that their parents drop $125 on and I find myself wondering if there is some kind of Lord of the Flies phase that kids go through when they enter middle school these days. I wish I could slap this one arrogant little prick who trash talks Jordie. He looks like one of those little weasels who's a trouble making tattle tail suck up. Luckily Jordie goes to a school where he has connected with a counselor, ironically a black man, who cares about Jordie and gets him into classes and programs where he can experience success. We sit in on one of these sessions and watch Jordie cry as he claims not to care about what people say. It's so clear that he cares a lot and is hurt. His counselor has placed Jordie in a culinary class with high school students where he does really well. He has been getting in less fights and is feeling better about himself.

We move on to kids drinking - back to the blow job queens and their milieu. They've all been busted drinking in the park - one of the boys, Casey, his mom caught him. She called a meeting of all the parents and the kids were included so they could talk about how this was bad decision making. It was so interesting to see how out of it a lot of these parents were as far as their knowledge about what their kids were doing. But I have to admit I'd be out of it too since these kids are engaging in activities that I didn't start until I was 15 or 16. I mean sure there was the time that Lori drank about 8 oz of whiskey out of Marcia's parents liquor cabinet and poisoned herself so badly that Mr. Spivy had to practically give her mouth to mouth in the girls bathroom during the spring carnival - but that was an anomaly. We didn't start drinking really until we were in high school.

Casey and his dad are at home getting into it about how dad never spends any time with Casey anymore and Dad says well that's a privelege that Casey is going to have to earn. He also mentions that Casey is unpleasant to be with. Can you say self-perpetuating cycle of drama? I'm thinking that dad needs to shut up and listen to what his kid is saying and respond appropriately, not send him up to his room because he's yelling. Thankfully this family gets into therapy, after Casey starts talking suicide, and for the last year they've been doing much better.

In fact, all of the kids that were featured in the documentary are doing okay. Except for maybe Amber the blow job queen - her family moved her from Colorado to a small town in Kansas.

Because they don't like blow jobs in Kansas?

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