Sixth grade, the year I turned 11, was fairly stable. Sure, I had the normal pre-teen drama of “does she like me this week or not,” and being very non-athletic I struggled to fit into some groups at recess and the like, but for the most part we had found a stable point in our lives. We did actually find “home” in Missouri, and that is where I finished my growing up years, and my parents still live there today.
At the beginning of sixth grade we were ushered into the music room and Miss T, our music teacher, told us we were going to learn about the instruments we could take in band. Mr. B helped her demonstrate the instruments. This was not long after we ahd had an evangelist come though our church who had a trombone-playing sidekick. Mr. B also played the trombone, and when he demonstrated it he made it look so fun. I decided then and there I wanted to play the trombone. My parents were quite skeptical – with that typically being a “boy” instrument, they didn’t think I would stick with it. So they bought me a dinged up instrument from the classifieds and I started learning to play trombone. The first few weeks I had the instrument I was asked to practice in our downstairs (basement) bathroom with the door shut – it was THAT bad. All in all I enjoyed the trombone and still play occasionally at church. I do remember asking Miss T if I could sit with the flute section though. All of those boys were a bit stinky.
Another memory from sixth grade sticks out to me. We were having a special sixth grade chapel session with Mr. C, the new junior high teacher and former baseball player who we all thought was just dreamy. I was sitting on the front row. He had very shiny shoes. Suddenly, I knew what was about to happen. I was going to throw up. I politely raised my hand to hope that the teacher would notice me. Mr. C ignored me. Miss S, my teacher, also ignored me. I kept staring at those shiny shoes, thinking, “I am going to throw up all over them!” Finally, even though I just knew I was going to get in trouble, I got up and went to Miss S, telling her I was going to throw up. She hurried me out the door, but it was too late. I hurled all over the hallway, in sight of my classmates, much to my embarrassment. That carpet was stained until it was replaced a few years later. It took a long time to live that one down, but at least I missed Mr. C’s shoes. J
Sixth grade was my first experience with a male teacher. I remember being a bit scared. To help us get used to the format of junior high and high school, our teachers team taught. Throughout the day they would switch classes between the two sixth grade rooms so we had two different teachers. Then, one other teacher, Mr. H (he was the principal of the elementary at one point, but I can’t remember if it was at this time or not) would teach us science. Halfway through the year he stopped teaching us science and a new teacher, Mr. G, took over. Even though having a male teacher was a little scary, I enjoyed these two men and their perspective of God’s creation. In fact, I still keep up with Mr. H through his wife’s facebook.
I made one very close friend in sixth grade, Debbra P, who I also recently found on facebook. We would have sleepovers all of the time. While we had our share of fights (I tended to be a bit controlling of my friends, perhaps because it felt so nice to actually have some roots and stability), I considered her my best friend. I was devastated when I learned she would not be going to junior high with me at the Christian school. Her parents had decided to homeschool her and eventually they moved away.
After we bought a home, we put in a pool. I remember feeling kind of strange when people who normally didn’t have the time of day for me were suddenly my “best friends” in the summer when the pool was open. I’m sure it wasn’t as blatant as I felt at the time, but it was strange. We did enjoy many pool parties that summer, and it gave me, the awkward, younger-than-everyone-else sixth grader, a way to connect with people.
Transitioning to Midwest life wasn’t too difficult. People in Missouri were far more friendly and open than people in New England. However, one distinct difference was the name they had for carbonated beverages. I grew up calling them “soda” or “Coke,” but in Missouri everyone called it “pop.” I swore I would never call it pop. That didn’t last long.
I am participating in a project called Mommy’s Piggy Tales. To find out how you can participate or read the stories of other great women, visit the link below.