On Being 10 in 1976

1976 was a pretty cool year…

Our little town had some serious Bicentennial fever.  Our Girl Scout troop joined bunches of others to paint the fire hydrants around town with patriotic colors and themes.  Our elementary school classrooms became art studios as we designed and then painted murals on the walls.

The Liberty Bell replica came through town on the train.  That summer, we even got to name our softball team the 76ers – which was quite a thing, considering that we generally used the same tired names over and over.

It was also the year I turned 10.

I finished 4th grade and moved into 5th.  I was finally at elementary school without my older brother in the building. We still had recess and played foursquare after lunch. We learned square dances and The Hustle in PE, and we tried to earn the President’s Physical Fitness Award.

My circle of friends and I endured the first of many “this is how girls’ bodies work” class sessions, and we discovered the Judy Blume version of those same talks.  I was a tomboy among girlie girls, mortified to be the first to need a bra. I was discovering that I had gifts in music and writing, that numbers were not my strong suit, and that friendships were getting much more complicated.  I had no idea why everyone was talking about “liking” boys and asking me who I “liked.”  I mostly liked any of them that didn’t deserve a punch in the face.   I eventually realized they were talking about a different sort of like.

What I wish I could tell my 10 year old self…

The things that make you feel alone and ashamed, the things that you think are bad or weird, those are the things that make all the good and fun stuff possible.  Including being friends with both boys and girls.  Really- it’s ok not to “like” them yet.  There’s more than enough time for that.

The people who tease you for knowing stuff that they don’t?  They wish they could read and remember the way you do.  That strange and wonderful brain of yours is just waking up to the possibilities of stories and poetry and imagery.  No, you won’t get a lot better at multiplication.  Or fractions.  And division will remain a mystery.  As will dancing. But all that Spanish will stick.

And buckle up, kiddo, because middle school is going to be a wild ride.

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