Monday, December 28, 2015

Eighth Grade Muddle

Twelve-year old Margot was the youngest girl in the eighth grade.  How she got to be in eighth grade before her thirteenth birthday is a story that cannot be told here because this recorder does not know the story.  It shall have to suffice to say that she was in eighth grade and would not be thirteen until Christmas Day.

There is something to discuss.  A child born on Christmas Day.  Is she blessed, or is it a tragedy?  Again, we do not know all the ramifications of such coincidence of events but we do know in this case that Margot is not thrilled about it.  She feels cheated, put upon in a sense.  It is as though she is the only girl she knows who does not have her own day.  Worse, Christmas and birthday rolled into one equals once-a-year presents while everyone else gets her own special day, gifts twice a year.  At least the parents didn't name her Carol, or Noelle or the like.  "Margot," her  mother told her, "my little Christmas daisy."

Breaking into the social stream in this junior high school had been a trial for Margot.  She was bright, too bright, she was thinking.  Margot was not only an excellent student, she was at the top of her class in all things academic.  This she correctly suspected did not endear her to her classmates.  Too, Margot was not only smart, she was pretty.  She knew this, but she was not conceited about it.  In fact, she suspected, again correctly, that this also did not endear her to her classmates.  The girls were jealous, envious, and in some cases downright mean.  The boys were intimidated by both her good looks and her intelligence.

Ah, dear.  The vicissitudes of adolescence.  Some of the less-subtle wits, half-wits, thought Margot, tagged her "Maggot."  The one girl in the class who had befriended her, Violet, yes that Violet, the Shrinking One, suggested to Margot that she simply drop the "t."  "After all," she said, "that wouldn't change the pronunciation of your name."  Margot thought that might be a little too plain, but it did get her to thinking and presently she started turning in her papers under the name "Margaux."

The girls in the class were soon aware of the self-applied name change and somehow Margot went from "Maggot" to "Ox."

Poor me! thought Margot.  Nothing I ever do is right.

Which one could not tell by the rows of "A"s on her report card.

Author's note:  I have had this one sitting in my drafts folder for several weeks.  Somehow entertains me, yet I find it strangely unsatisfying.  Well, I have run out of anything else, so here goes.

12 comments:

Grace said...

Haven't there been other Margot stories? She seems familiar...

vanilla said...

Grace, I think so. A Christmas globe, a pink elephant, Sunday school, kindergarten.

Jim Grey said...

On being born Christmas Day: My girlfriend's youngest boy, 15, is so born and loves it. Apparently, he always has. His mother has always made sure Christmas morning is about Christ and Christmas afternoon is about the son's birthday, and it has worked well.

I wish someone would anonymously mail a card to every person entering middle school saying that these years will stink in terms of figuring out social pecking order and that your main goal is simply to survive them.

Jim Grey said...

P.S. A blog sure can be a beast that demands to be fed. Remember last year I wrote about a couple 80-something bloggers who stopped blogging? One of them quietly restarted a couple weeks ago. After a sabbatical, he finds he has a little more to say. I wonder if the trick is to just write when the words want to be written. Thanks to the magic of feed readers, all of us will still be here whether you write daily, weekly, monthly, or whenever.

Lin said...

Well, I think we all figured out how Margot ended up in the 8th grade when she was only 12.

Middle school is horrible. I still bear the scars of my days there--but, don't we all in some way? I'd like to say that the girls are extra mean, but I can tell you from experiences with my son, the boys are just as dreadful.

I'm sure Margot went on to be a beautiful, successful, smart woman who made many friends after those days.

vanilla said...

Jim, those early adolescent years are a trial and survival may be the best one can hope for. See, if I were in middle school the English teacher would red-line that last sentence all to kingdom come.

I have a sister-in-law whose birthday is 12/25. She has done very well with that.

You are suggesting that rather than "shutting down" I might simply post when the muse prods me to do so? That could remove the compulsion and yet leave open the possibilities. I waffle a lot. Thanks for the input.

Lin, Dad referred to adolescence as "climbing fools' hill." Whatever it is, it is a time of looking for oneself yet not finding what one is looking for. There's that terminal preposition again. Surely is handy.

Secondary Roads said...

That is very painful for a child to have their name mocked. I've witnessed that and took care to name our sons so there was no obvious short path to mockery.

vanilla said...

Chuck, it is that, and children can be vicious. And creative.

Jim Grey said...

David, yes: posting when you feel like it could open you back up to the joy of blogging. Maybe you'll find that the words will come more easily when you don't feel like you have to write some.

BTW, my middle-school years were awful, full stop. I wrote about them a few years ago. http://blog.jimgrey.net/2011/09/08/why-new-jerseys-anti-bullying-law-is-both-too-much-and-not-enough/

vanilla said...

Jim, I went back and read your account. Not a pleasant few years for you. As to legislative solutions to a problem, it has been my observation over the years that if a problem requires good judgment and finesse to effect a solution and said problem is turned over to a legislative body it will invariably use a sledge hammer.

Sharkbytes said...

Poor Margot. Jr High was just plain awful. Were you a watcher of the TV series Without a Trace? Some of their episodes were frighteningly realistic. One where a jr hi girl goes missing was just too close to home.

vanilla said...

Sharkey, junior high was awful in too many ways to tell. And I spent eight years of my career with classrooms full of these children on the cusp of pubescence. I very much enjoyed working with these kids and hoped that I could in some measure make their lives more bearable. Yet I taught mathematics and in all honesty I have to admit that that in itself made some of them more miserable.