To 13-Year-Old Me

I see you’re feeling pretty sorry for yourself. You think it’s the worst year of your life, and I don’t blame you. You’ve taken some awfully hard punches in 1968. It’ll be another four decades before life knocks you to the mats, and you’re almost down for the count.

Let me assure you. You and Jesus make it through the eighth grade. He never leaves your side. But if you could know now, what I know from the future, the next couple years could be a little easier. Here’s what I’ve learned.

credit to

credit to

  1. Forget boys. Really. They’ll still be around in a few years, and you’ll be a lot better able to handle whatever they throw at you, be it a baseball or a slick slide from your waist up and across your chest. Invest in a couple of good girlfriends instead. If you have to choose between a heart-fluttering jaunt around the bay with Surfer Joe or keeping your girls’ day out date with Laurie Lee, stick with Laurie. She’ll be there long after Joe motors off into the sunset with someone else. shutterstock_119402656-480x320
  2. Forget the In Group. I know you think they’re your ticket to a great social life, but you don’t even like big parties. You hate to talk about the latest fashions, the coolest rock stars. Why do you want that kind of social life? Could it be the boys? See Lesson #1.

At least, you figure some things out by senior year in high school, and you enjoy choosing some good friends. I’m telling you: you could have had that blessing a lot sooner.

  1. Use the talents God gave you. Now. You don’t have to wait until after college and make one of your gifts a career. People have started to tell you that you have a great singing voice. You’ve even sung solos. Enjoy those times. Work at getting even better.

You’ve known you wanted to be a teacher since you were four. What about helping out with the nursery class at Sunday school? Or, here’s a daring thought. What if you offered babysitting services to the unwed mother down block? Teen moms must be even lonelier than you.

You know how you enjoy writing? Surprise! You publish several magazine articles during years when you’re not teaching. And after you retire? You write FULL TIME. How cool is that?

  1. Kick self-pity out of your life. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Your dad’s at war, your sister’s in and out of doctors’ offices, your mom needs your support, and your friends faded into nonexistence just because you moved away for four months. Will it help to learn your dad survives, your sister grows up to be a teacher just like you, your mom was a lot stronger than you gave her credit for, and new people were quite willing to be your friend? But you blew it. The self-pity blinded you. So don’t blow it.

You asked Jesus into your life when you were ten, and your current Sunday School teacher makes a lot of sense as he shares his faith in class. Listen to him, and copy him.  If you’re looking at Jesus instead of your poor little self, YOU WILL HAVE JOY!

  1. This is a question, not a lesson learned. While you have a great sense of rhythm, a nice smile, and a voice that projects across the basketball court, you are one of the most uncoordinated people I know. Do you really want to be a cheerleader in high school, or do you just hope Quarterback Kevin will notice you?  See Lesson #1. Again.13 yr Linda

The Wannabe

In the last several weeks, we’ve been posting items related to Bird Face , written by our own Cynthia Toney. We interviewed the author, shared tales from junior high school, and reflected on where we are today because of our experiences. Bullies and bullying have existed since Cain and Abel, yet we humans need to periodically discuss the issue and make sure we continue to battle our fallen human natures.

Anonymous sticky-notes, a scheming bully, and a ruined summer send almost-fourteen-year-old Wendy Robichaud down a trail of secrets and self-discovery.

Anonymous sticky-notes, a scheming bully, and a ruined summer send almost-fourteen-year-old Wendy Robichaud down a trail of secrets and self-discovery.

On one of those rare days when I could sit and read to my heart’s content, I picked up Bird Face  and never put it down until “The End.” Whether you’re a parent or a teen or a kid old enough to read a chapter book, you’ll be able to relate. While a few of the characters initially seem as stiff as one of those  cardboard cutouts of a celebrity advertising the latest soft drink in your local convenience store, that’s not the author’s fault. It’s Wendy’s. And who of us has never done that – made a judgment on a person we don’t know very well and relegated them to a flat rendition of their true selves?

Like some of the other Scriblerians, I can relate to more than one of the characters. I had Wendy’s total lack of self confidence, Alice’s reticence, and Tookie’s desire to be popular. The combination came off as arrogant snob, and I assume the In Group labeled me a Wannabe. Wannabes may or may not have excellent qualities, but they want, they covet, recognition.


I hung around the fringes of the in-group, what Wendy calls the Sticks and the Suaves. I went to their parties, but was too self-conscious to enjoy myself. I made the cheerleading squad. Yay! Rah! And at a whopping 120 pounds, I provided a nice, solid base for our pyramids. Instead of being grateful for an excellent singing voice, I noticed who sang with more pizzazz, and I was green-eyed jealous.

Unlike Wendy, it took until my senior year of high school to get comfortable with myself. With no regrets, I walked away from the Sticks and the Suaves and discovered new and true friendships. I began to search for what I could learn from others instead of seek their admiration, but it wasn’t until I surrendered my life to Jesus, that I truly learned how to give of myself without the desire to get something back.

Does Wendy learn how to thrive by the end of eighth grade? Or does she keep messing up for more years than I did? I won’t tell you. Don’t want to be a spoiler. But if you choose to learn the answer, you’ll enjoy a great read.