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Posts Tagged ‘awkward middle school girl’

I used to commute miles and miles along freeways and interchanges. These days, I drive three miles to work. My commute takes me through one school zone (Middle School) and past several bus stops. I might have to stop a couple times for middle school kids to cross the street or for a bus picking up kids. I might not have to. It all depends on when I hit the road – and when the kids are out waiting or walking.

There’s a large group of middle school kids who come out of an apartment complex in the midst of the school zone I drive through. I usually see them between the crosswalks in the middle of the school zone or at the red light. They come in all shapes: the big boy who probably towers over his classmates and outweighs them. The cute girls with bouncy pony tails and no jackets. The generic boys who hang together or with the bouncy pony tails. And the little girl with big glasses, pigeon toes, and an awkward gait. She’s nearly always alone.

She trails the gang. Sometimes, she walks side-by-side with a little girl with dark hair and skin. But most of the time, she’s alone. And always smiling.

She seems to be lost in a world of her own. Her peers pass her by without a word that I can see. I see no bullying or teasing actions. I see no interaction between this little girl and any of the other kids, except for the times I see her with the other little girl, and that is very rarely.

My heart is drawn to this little girl. I see myself in her. I see her as a very unique flower in an unforgiving world. She’s always smiling and moving to the beat of a silent drummer, all her own.

I’m not sure she’s “all there”. I can tell she’s not from a family of privilege. But she’s independent, she has an inner sense of joy, and she’s completely unaware of the world around her: the passing cars, the gaggle of boys and girls who must be her classmates, and even the weather. She has short, mousy brown hair and a plain face. Thick glasses and a smile.

I figure her for 6th grade. She could be in 7th grade. She’s in middle school, which is the worst melting pot of the American socialization experiment. She’s no doubt the butt of some kid’s joke, or some clique’s teasing. But she’s also someone’s beloved daughter. Someone taught her to smile. Someone gave her the confidence to walk to school, alone, in the middle of the gaggle of her classmates who are visibly popular and attractive. She’s shorter than most of her classmates (some boys excepted, but they will get a growth spurt soon). She’s almost homely.

But she smiles.

Walking alone, mindless of everyone around her, smiling. Smiling. SMILING.

Don’t you wish you had some of that inner peace right now? I do. I’m nearly 60 years of age and I don’t walk through life smiling. I’m finally comfortable in my own skin and I don’t give a f— who is popular, cute, or “in”. (Oh, yeah – I left my last job because I couldn’t stand “Barbie” the HR person. Get real, sweetheart!) Fake is out. Real is in.

And that is why I love this little girl. Anyone can be fake. I can do fake, if I need to. But real? Real AND awkward?  And smile? I’m almost 60 and I’m just settling into this. She’s in middle school.

My heart goes out to her. I hope she really is as happy as her visage makes me imagine she is. I hope her family life is stable and loving. I hope – and pray – she’s that ugly duckling that will grow to be a beautiful swan. One with confidence born of self-love. I pray life is kind to her at just the right moments. Life won’t always be kind, but if it is kind at the right moments, anything can happen inside of a heart.

Childhood was unkind to me. I survived because of my parents and a couple best friends. That’s what I wish for this little girl who walks to school, alone, in the middle of a crowd. Loving parents and at least one good friend. Because she’s beautiful.

And I look for her every day. I need to see her walking to school. She will never know that some old woman cared for her, but that’s how it is supposed to be. And now – maybe – some other people on the Intranet will care for a little girl they can’t even see. Because she’s beautiful.

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