In a reversal of Big, the Tom Hanks classic from the 80s, your adult self is suddenly locked in the body of a 12-year-old kid. How do you survive your first day back in school?
I found a seat on the crowded school bus, near the back where some junior high boys were sitting. They thought I was their age. I looked their age. I knew what they were thinking, and instead of making me nervous it just made me laugh inside. Twits. All junior high boys have an obsessive fascination with female body parts and bathroom humor. When I really was 12, it kind of scared me. Not now. Let them ogle, let them laugh and make their stupid jokes. I wish I could have ignored it all like this, back then.
The ride seemed to take forever. Being the new kid is always hard, but seeing it from this new perspective gave me a lot of insight into how fearful kids this age can be. They’re afraid of anything they don’t know or understand. They get all up on their hind legs, like stiff-legged dogs who are considering whether or not to fight.
But I guess we adults are really no different. What we don’t understand, we fear. What we fear, we mock.
I waited until all those silly twits behind me had pushed and shoved their way off the bus. They left an aroma of little-boy sweat and peanut butter behind them. Finally the aisle was clear, and I made my way to the front. The bus driver smiled at me, said, “New this morning? I hope you’ll have a good day.”
I smiled back. He was pretty cute, looked to be about my age. Lousy twelve-year-old body!
The day actually went okay. There are lots of advantages to being 20 and looking 12. I’m going to ace every subject, even the ones I hated the first time around. I’ll even do better in gym than I did before, since I’ve been working out for a few years now. And I know a lot more about how the teachers really think and feel, so I’m going to have to be careful not to become the dreaded teacher’s pet. That could take some careful managing.
What’s going to be hard is hanging out with the little girls. Oh my word, how I hated being called a little girl when I was 12. Eight short years gives you a whole new perspective. Anyway, they’re just so silly. Everything they say is in capital letters, italics, bold, and with a dozen exclamation marks.
“OOoooooohhhh, did you SEE (insert boy’s name here)???? I mean, he like really GREW over the summer, and he’s SO CUTE!! HE’s SO HOT!!(wave hand in front of face here to cool off)!! He’s like SO MINE this year! All the rest of you just keep AWAY! (Girls all walk away in a huddle, whispering and giggling and making sure they walk by the boy they’re discussing. Poor kid doesn’t have a clue.)
I found my locker, opened the combination lock, and put my jacket inside. The girl next to me smiled and said hi, and I smiled back. Oh dear. She’s going to have a hard time with the “cool” girls. She’s shy, she isn’t wearing the required cool clothes, and her hair isn’t in the required cool ‘do. Well, I can take away some of the pain of rejection. I’ll be her friend. I wish I’d been more aware of these kids back when I was 12. I wish I’d been nicer. It’s a lonely and painful path they walk.
Lunch was actually kind of fun. I remember when there was a new girl in my class when I was 12 or 13. She came into the lunch room looking for a place to sit, and saw some spaces by me and my group of friends. When she started to sit down, one of the other girls said, “You can’t sit there. Those places are saved for our FRIENDS!” Poor girl, even then I felt sorry for her. I wish I’d stood up and offered to go sit with her somewhere else. Today, I just found an empty table and sat by myself, and I didn’t care. When I saw my locker friend wandering around with her tray, I waved and called her name, and she came and sat with me. She looked so relieved! She’s a nice kid. It won’t be hard to be friends with her.
We even discovered that we ride the same bus, so we sat together again on the way home. She lives a couple of blocks away from me, and that could be a problem. How do I explain why I’m living alone in my apartment at the ripe old age of 12?
Well, that’s a worry for another day. I wonder how long this is going to last.