Tuesday, I went to the middle school to take a few pictures of the eighth-grade football game and volleyball match. It was chilly and it had been misting all afternoon, so I decided to take shelter first then venture off outside later.
Prior to my arrival, middle school felt like an eternity ago. I hadn’t been there in 15 years, but it was essentially the same place.
Some things I noticed were the same upon entering the building, like the disproportional size of the boys, the insecure look on the girls and the smell of Domino’s pizza at the concession stand. It’s still cheap, delicious and worth the instant gratification.
Once I went inside, it was instantly familiar, maybe because I worked hard to forget those status cementing, approval seeking adolescent years, but they quickly resurface in the forefront of your mind with just a few strange encounters.
I watched one of the volleyball teams play. They played fairly well and seemed supportive of each other. I remembered being envious of the girls on the D, E or F teams because they were unanimously supportive of each other.
They had a unique, probably apathetic, bond over the sport and had the leisure of playing for fun. The A, B and C teams were much more competitive, skill orientated and serious.
Like in nearly all things middle school, the girls knew the basics, but they hadn’t learned the art of applying them to the sport.
There were times when girls forgot they had to get the ball over the net in no more than three possessions, they miscommunicated who would bump the ball or they had a faulty sense of the court boundaries. It was interesting to witness their naivete and I had oddly wished to be an amateur at that moment.
I headed out to the football team, playing in a wet and cold atmosphere. Now, I’m not sure if it’s always been this way, but our boys looked much smaller than the other team.
That’s okay. They still fought hard, gave positive affirmations and knew how to play. It just sometimes took two of our kids to tackle one of them.
As I left the middle school, I realized that I had been wrapped in insignificant issues like adolescent popularity and body image, when I was missing the obvious.
These kids were us.
The boys wanted to be as big as the other boys and the girls wanted to be as talented as the other girls.
But they’ll eventually learn how to be better volleyball players, more natural athletes.
That being supportive is more important than winning. That some things will always be hard to tackle.
That they will grow up into adults soon. That’ll they’ll be okay and they wouldn’t have to worry about fitting in.