they're baaaaaaack

I saw them today--the returning students that were in to pick up their registration packets. Each year, I'm amazed by the transformation that occurs in the eight weeks between June and August. Between sixth and seventh? Many of them shoot up an inch in height; the boys' voices start deepening, and the idea of chasing someone around the sandbox is not quite as cool as it once was. They're still vulnerable, still young, still kids, but somehow you start to see the glimmering of adulthood in the way they're walking calmly around.

Today was no different. I know many of the incoming 7th graders, and the two girls I saw today were quite "young" last year--quite often their hair was beribboned and their clothing smudged with grass or dirt from playing on the field. Today? Today they were both wearing the standard 7th grade girl outfit of jeans, solid colored top, and flipflops (well, this is southern california) and one of them had gotten braces. But the biggest difference I saw was in their walk. They had gone from the heads-first plow ahead of the sixth grader to a seventh grade saunter. They were cool; they'd been here before; they knew where all of the good bathrooms were and how to get from the upper level classrooms fast enough to still have time to socialize. They didn't need to hurry; they knew where they needed to go.

That is, until they saw me and ran screaming to say hello. But that's one of the perks of middle school. Some maturity, lots of enthusiasm.