If somebody asked me to go back and experience middle school as it is today for a lot of money, there's no way in (you know where) I'd do it. As I said before, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, or any of those other really rich dudes don't have enough money to pay me to do that. Why? Because I am not sure I'd come out whole. Seriously.
Let's take a look at that. First of all, I spent most of my middle school days in braces (those big metal ones), braids, glasses, and I probably had quite a few zits too. Today, any one of those things might be enough to get me shunned from my lunch table, leaving me to wander around the cafeteria trying to find a place to sit while everyone was watching, or at least I would think they were. I would want to crawl in a deep dark hole and never come out.
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I know that I'd be crushed when my 'friends' went somewhere when they told me they weren't going, and then posted all of their fun on facebook. I would feel left out, like a loser, and I would be confused about who my friends were and who they weren't. I might be tempted to do anything to gain acceptance into that crowd: let them copy my test, give them my money, drink or smoke, act out sexually, bully others, etc. Or I might walk away and think I was just a loser and that no one would ever like me. Since I'd be about 13 years old, friends would mean everything to me. I might get depressed.
I would be certain I'd need to monitor all social media night and day so that I would know what was going on at all times, and see if anyone was talking about me. I would hate that, but I'd be helplessly drawn to it at the same time. That would keep me up at night and interfere with my homework. I would not get enough sleep. I would lose time with family because people post and comment 24/7. I would effectively lose a bit of my childhood that way, and I would never get enough downtime.
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Deep down inside I would want to get good grades because I like school, but my friends might say that isn't cool, so I might not try any more. I would know my parents had high hopes for me and I wouldn't want to disappoint them, so I might stop talking to them. I'd be certain that they'd be too old to understand. I would miss them, because we used to hang out all of the time. I might feel alone, isolated, confused, and even ashamed of myself. I might gravitate toward whatever made me feel better at the moment, no matter what that might be. That could lead to trouble.
Ok, that's enough. I could go on and on, but I won't. You get the picture. Middle school was probably always hard. And it is even tougher now, plus kids are exceptionally vulnerable at that age. With that said, some kids sail through quite nicely. They are either amazingly resilient, or perhaps they are so into their own thing that they are oblivious, lucky them. And on the flipside, some kids will have problems in the most perfect of circumstances. That leaves the vast majority of kids falling somewhere in the middle, where it kind of 'depends'. That's where we parents can have some influence.