An Open Letter to Ernie’s 8th Grade Class
May 31, 2017
When I started my blog I assumed I would be preaching/writing to the choir. Middle-aged women like me would be my audience. As with most things in life, my assumption was wrong.
A few months ago Ernie mentioned (I’d like to think bragged) to his classmates that his mom wrote a blog while in computer class. Suddenly my Google analytics had a whole new demographic coming from a middle school (thanks for the boost in numbers, guys). Since then Ernie’s classmates stop me at school and say, “The cupcake body wash was my favorite.” “Mrs. H yelled at me when I read ‘stud muffin’ out loud.” “When are you going to write a new blog post?” “Sorry about your cat.” “I know where Ernie gets his funny from.”
I’ve been neglecting my blog between writers’ block and not enough hours in the day. It suddenly occurred to me what my next blog post should be about, my teenage audience.
Dear Ernie’s Classmates,
Many of you have been with Ernie since kindergarten. Others joined the class over the last eight years. Tomorrow you graduate from eighth grade and will scatter to the wind and your new high school adventures. By the number of different t-shirts I saw on eighth grade luncheon day, at least twelve different high schools. You will go from being the oldest in a small school to a small fish in a big pond. But don’t let that scare you. That is how life works. After you climb to the top of one mountain you will start at the bottom of the next.
While I haven’t got to spend time with all of you, the last ‘bubble year’ (or as I like to call you, the ‘bumper crop’ year) at your school, many of you hold a special place in my heart. You have made me laugh, think, and be honored to get to watch you grow-up to be the great bunch of kids that you are today. My old-lady brain won’t let me remember all of your names but I’m going to try to remember a few.
Lucy, thanks for forgiving me when I called you by your sister’s name so many times. There are just too many girls in your family! Kylie, I’ve always admired your sense of style. You definitely take after your mom (and that’s a compliment even if you don’t think it is at this point in your life). Julia, even though you wear contacts now I still see the little girl in the big glasses and even bigger dimples. Lindsay, thanks for keeping Ernie in line for me. It’s a full-time job! Jackson, I’m so glad you and Ernie went from side-eyeing each other to being friends. Yes, he is a funny, funny kid! Justin, you make me laugh by just being you. Kaitlyn, you always greet me with a big smile and a hug (especially on ice cream day). Raquel, can you please tell me why every picture I have of you your tongue is sticking out? Dominick, you showed me the responsible man you will become when you jumped in to help at the party last year. Sarah, you were Ernie’s first best friend and I hope you will always stay in touch. Stephen, you always make me laugh. You are a talented young man and a good friend to Ernie. I hope you always stay close (And you’re the only one that gets away with calling me ‘Marsha, Marsha, Marsha’). Thomas, Ernie’s doppelganger. I hope you never got in too much trouble for something he did because the teachers couldn’t tell you apart. Maybe the two of you can go on double dates with twins one day. Wouldn’t that be funny? Lukas, I think you have been taller than me since second grade! I never see a guinea pig without thinking of Speedy. Caroline R, your enthusiasm when you sing in choir has had me watching you more than Ernie at the concerts. Maddy R, you were one of Ernie’s first friends in Mrs. M’s class. I hope the photos of you, Sarah and Ernie make the slide show. Lily, thanks for reminding me to write a blog post! Please keep reading. If I know you’re reading I’ll be inspired to write. Ava, I’m so glad I will still get to see you dance at BSA! Josh, could you ask your mom not to bring the cowbell to graduation? Thanks!
And, last, but not least, Ernie. In your fourteen years on this earth you have made me happy, sad, exasperated, proud, astonished, mad, thrilled, crazy, surprised, and flabbergasted. And that was just yesterday! (just kidding) Even though you are taller than me I still see my curly haired little boy who’s first word wasn’t ‘mum’ or ‘dada’ but the neighbor’s kid’s name (I mean really, I gave you life and you couldn’t give me your first word?) I see my four-year-old Ernie who saw a horse, but not a pole, and came home from Disney World with a black eye. I have every card you drew for me tucked away in a box (In all honestly I’m hoping you become a famous artist one day and I can sell them to pay for my retirement). I can’t wait for the day we write a book together. We come up with some of the best ideas in the car, don’t we? Since you were five, every time you have taken the stage I have been in complete awe of how talented an actor you are. Even though I cried tears of joy when the acceptance letter from BSA came, in my heart I knew you would get in. You worked too hard and were too focused not to have. Remember to keep up that level of determination and you will go far. I promise. Have I lied to you yet? (I mean besides the Santa/Tooth Fairy/Easter Bunny thing.)
I remember my eighth grade graduation. We all promised to stay in touch but as we went to different schools, and then later colleges and jobs, the promises were forgotten. I didn’t find many of my eighth grade friends again until Facebook was created. The good news is I have picked up where I left off with many old friends. The better news is you don’t have to wait until you are 30-something to find your old crush on-line and see that he/she is married with seven kids and driving a mini-van. Or your BFF lives in Guam. You have all the tools right in your pocket on your phone. Don’t forget to use the power of social media for good and not just for selfies or photos of your snowball from Opie’s last night.
Good luck, my young friends! You’re going to be fantastic! I just know it!
“You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So… get on your way!”
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
With Love & Admiration,