An Open Letter To Middle Schoolers


Dear Middle Schoolers,

This letter also applies to those of you who identify as “Junior High Schoolers,” so please do not disregard it if you are now thinking, “Middle Schooler? What’s that? Not me!” Are you between the ages of 11 and 14? Then this note is for you. And, trust me, you’re going to want to read it, for this is a piece of both praise and warning.

Let’s start with the positive. I vaguely remember middle school—getting my period for the first time, having different teachers for different subjects. But apparently I’ve all to often been preoccupied with getting older, so much so that I was never really able to appreciate how amazing a time it is. Well, I’m here now to acknowledge my shortsightedness, both now and when I was one of you, and admit that you guys have got it figured out: good books and good food—that’s what life is all about. Because that’s all you youngsters care about, right? Aside from the vaguely confusing romantic feelings you’re trying to suppress, of course.

Of course, I’ll be more specific. In sixth grade I was given a book that might now be termed “Chick Lit.” It was written for adults and contained some late-in-life sexual liberation. After that, there was no turning back, no more Middle Grade or Young Adult paperbacks for me. What a mistake! I’m not sure you guys know about it, but there’s this series that came out a while ago, it’s about wizards and it is awesome.

Of course, when it first came out, I scoffed at its popularity. I heard on the news that these were books that could be enjoyed by both seven and seventy-year-olds and couldn’t have been more outraged. A book isn’t supposed to be read by adults and children. Kids have their silly books and grownups have their real books. But you, the real Middle Schoolers, you knew better. On a whim I started reading the books a couple months ago and I’m on the fifth one. Really great and imaginative stuff. How interesting would it be to be a witch or wizard, right? But why am I telling you this? I’m sure you’ve all read each of the books. Besides, I shouldn’t keep going on—there’s more to cover and you all aren’t used to reading so much small print on one page.

We’ll move on to food now. And by food, I mean chicken nuggets. I know how much your age group loves them. I recently had a dinner of chicken nuggets, with a side of macaroni and cheese—damn. So good. Sure, some people might be appalled by the lack of vegetables, by the fact that everything on the plate was the same color. But that’s what ketchup is for. Best meal I’ve had in ages.

You can translate chicken nuggets to fancier occasions, too. For instance, my boyfriend had a birthday party last weekend. He had his heart set on making a Jenga tower out of mozzarella sticks, so I figured I’d class it up a bit with some more finger food. Take some chicken nuggets, dollop on a smidge of tomato sauce, top it off with cheese, and what have you got? Miniature chicken parmesan. I even put some chipotle ranch on some of the nuggs for variety.

What I’m trying to say, Middle Schoolers, is that your favorite things are great things. Troubled teenagers who have scars and perform magic, bits of processed poultry covered in fried crumble—what more does a person need? Sure, some carrots and broccoli every once in a while, but other than that?

So, for the second reason I’m writing: relish it. Put on some deodorant, because you all are old enough to smell but young enough not to notice, and quit your angst. Now is the time to read some genuinely fun books, and eat whatever you want. If you don’t do it now, you might end up doing it in your late twenties and that, despite my enthusiasm, can be construed as pathetic.

            That’s all for now! L8r!

            Sara Percy Roan