It’s back to school week in my community and for my 11th grader.
This brought forth a memory last week. Here’s what I’ve put together so far.
The year was probably 1987 or 1988.
As a 12-year-old, I entered high school in the 7th grade and I turned 13 in February.
I’m in a school with kids my age – all the way up to seniors, who appear to be grown men with full beards.
The girls (women), who wear cool clothing, have perfect, big hair and stand with the cute boys…they seem to have it all (from the 12-year-old perspective).
I had recently moved in with my mother to a small house that didn’t have a working stove. I ate a lot of microwave tater tots back then. And Chef Boyardee.
I know she was trying.
We shared clothing and often fought over who would wear the good shoes on any given day.
I wanted to be popular.
I wanted to be the girl down the road who had a wall heater in her bathroom. Now, THAT was luxury.
Looking back, I really didn’t know what I wanted. I knew I wanted a dad, and my stepsister (who was my exact age) had my dad, so I had been replaced.
My brother was with him and that completed a neat, little family of four, while I was over here without a way to cook food.
I had a mom who cried about money all the time and seemed to seek approval from the men she dated. It may not have been exactly that way, but that’s how it looked to me. Thank the Lord we are different people now.
I was not very understanding.
One day, I came across some buttons and beads she had brought home from a place called “Mardi Gras.” 😂
This had been a great big party that my mother attended. If I decorated my locker with these, then people might think I went to a party – and that could make me popular.
This is headed down a road that even Judy Blume wouldn’t take.
So, I removed the locker answering machine I had begged for at Christmas.
I have included a Youtube commercial if you don’t believe this existed 😉:
…and I hung several Mardi Gras buttons and strings of purple, green and gold beads in my locker.
One. Huge. Problem.
I didn’t know what the buttons meant.
In fact, I’m sitting here trying to figure out how to give you the shock factor of this testimony, that accurately tells my story…without being incredibly crude and vulgar.
It was probably the end of my 7th grade year or the beginning of 8th grade year- and I open my locker and stop traffic.
Bathroom wall popularity.
Keysha Simpson is a ______ <insert various names or a garden tool>.
Why? Because those buttons had catchy phrases that all referred to sexual acts!!
I. Didn’t. Know.
I was still being educated on that kind of slang while working in Corporate Marketing for a large bank. You wouldn’t believe the campaign and advertising ideas that were trashed because I didn’t know almost everything was dirty, even at age 27.
Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was watching Punky Brewster and The Brady Bunch at my mawmaw’s house?
[How would a girl who was playing with cabbage patch dolls last year process the button information?]
I was clearly not playing with dolls in high school, although they still decorated my bed. And, I wish I could tell you that I recovered from this incident, but I never really did (not in school, anyway).
There were zero adults to confide in or advise me, so…I ran away from home:
This is all the backstory to the blog post link above, when I shared that I contemplated suicide in the 8th grade.
There was a internal, downward spiral that I hid very well until I graduated.
- That wasn’t the end of my story.
- Fast forward 25 years and those days feel like three lifetimes ago.
- God has used my past to help me understand and mentor teenage girls, and not because I am anything special, but because He’s given me the desire to be the kind of person to them – that I didn’t have growing up…the Marty McFly of teen Bible studies? #myhope #backtothefuture #booktitle
This doesn’t mean my family was bad, but I feel like no one paid attention to what was going on beneath the surface. I bounced from house to house, deciding who I wanted to live with, so there wasn’t one consistent eye on me.
[Note: Just like I think a lot of people have no idea what goes on with kids today. If this happened to me in the 80’s…can you imagine the times now? 😳]
I was smart, independent, and my grandmother tells me I got ready for school and walked by myself to the bus from around age 8.
By the time my mother began to ask questions, I was 14, defiant, annoyed and had already been schooled by the world. I didn’t need her questions or answers.
Your kids may not act like they want to talk to you, but I believe if you start early – like as soon as they can talk – and have a routine of talking at bedtime or dinner or car rides…they may not shut down on you when they are older.
I’m not offering a money-back guarantee or anything. So far, it has kind of worked with one of mine. 😉
By doing this, you will have earned their trust before the evil in this world has a chance. At least repeat God’s Word and His Truth over and over as often as you can.
And not like a TV evangelist trying to buy a jet…in love and through much prayer.
Here’s a few things I wish 12-year-old Keysha had known…REALLY known:
Looking back, maybe I was never supposed to change my major from Education in 1994.
Because through many, MANY, twists and merciful turns, I ended up working in a school office in 2011.
Believe it or not, I actually love school. There were more great memories than sad moments.
As an adult, I’ve had the opportunity to be involved with First Priority, and now a weekly Bible Study club just for girls.
7th and 8th grade girls.
Wow. It kind of comes full circle.
One of the school’s counselors (and my dear friend) co-sponsors with me. 💕
We meet before school once a week to encourage them, and provide a place where they can cultivate like-minded, Christian friendships.
If you know me personally, and have seen me “all up in the business” of my two daughters (now 19 and 16), then this one locker story from my high school days should be enough reason why I could be a 🚁🚁🚁.
You’d better believe I watched them decorate their middle school lockers.
Polka dots and One Direction.
In fact, when my oldest daughter was in middle school, I had a crafting party/Bible study about LOCKERS.
They had no idea why.
Melody, 7th Grade
Morgan, 8th Grade ⬆️
Bible Study Group (Chosen Girls), all in college now ⬇️
Also, I’ve never, ever been to Mardi Gras.
I have been to New Orleans for a high school Jazz Band festival.
Ask your kids what they really want at school this year… I pray they are honest with you.
Maybe you can share a story with them that shows you were vulnerable at their age, and by trusting God to write their story, they won’t need to take beads – I mean things – into their own hands.
Give them school supplies.
Maybe new clothes and shoes.
But, don’t send them into the enemy’s world without Jesus.
Make sure they know their identity is in Christ.