Fifth grade is screaming through our lives like an upside down roller coaster.

Some days you’re up…some days you’re down…most days you feel like you’re gonna puke all over the kid next to you.

Good times.

I went into the fall knowing this would be a pivotal year for T-man – socially, emotionally, physically, academically – there would be a whole lot going on for him.  Changes to navigate all over the place, really, and (for the most part) he’s handled them with grace.

I, however, have been surprised more often than I’d care to admit.


The social drama alone in fifth grade rivals any soap opera I’ve seen.

“I told C I liked B and I told her not to tell anybody but then she turned right around and TOLD B that I liked her and now they’re acting all weird and C keeps saying mean things to me.”

“G is going out with N.”  (Bear: “REALLY?  Why?!”)  “I don’t know.  So G is going out with N, but I overheard N telling all her friends that she really likes K and they’re saying stuff behind G’s back.”

“J is being really mean to me.”  “Why?”  “I don’t know, she’s just been really mean to me ever since I broke up with her.”  “Wait, what?  When did you break up?”  “I don’t know, a few weeks ago, but she’s been SO MEAN to me ever since.  Like, she yells at me ALL THE TIME.” “Well, hon, you probably hurt her feelings.  You’re probably just going to have to deal with her being angry for a while.”

“J is being really mean to me.”  “When?”  “On the bus.  I’ll be walking past her seat and she’ll say no wonder nobody likes me, I’m so ugly.  Or she’ll say I have stupid hair or whatever. And she hit me.”  “Huh.  Well, it kind of sounds like she might still like you.”  “What?!”  “Yeah, I know it doesn’t make any sense, but it’s a strong possibility.”  “(Sigh.)”

This.  A million times this.  I thought I’d gotten past the shock of fifth graders ‘going out’ until I showed up for T-man’s DARE graduation.  (You can read about that here.  Talk about an eye-opening experience.  Sheesh!)

At one point the guest speaker asked how many of the boys had girlfriends and more than half of them raised their hands.  He got an equal number of hands when he asked the girls if they had boyfriends (I guess they’re pairing up, two by two).  We’d established that the majority of the school’s fifth grade was ‘dating.’  (Jesus, take the wheel.)

It wasn’t until I saw that flock of hands in the air that I truly grasped the scope of what T-man had been talking about.  At times during the year he’d complained that “everyone” had a girlfriend except him because “nobody” liked him, and I’d chalked it up to tween exaggeration but damn…no wonder he felt like the whole grade was dating.  Because it sure looked like the whole grade was dating.

Well, four months went by and I figured I was in the clear.  How much more shocking could fifth grade get, right?

That was about the time T-man mentioned that kids were kissing.

Screeeeeccchhh.  Say WHAT?!

That’s the sound that was in my head.  But me, being all cool cat and such, said this: “You don’t say…Tell me, dear son of mine, what exactly do you mean?”

Yeah.  Not really.  It was probably more like, “Wait, what?  What do you mean, they’re KISSING?!” Which, when I think about it, is a pretty stupid question since the statement is self-explanatory.  But whatever…I was doing the best I could.

T-man pointed out that it was the boyfriends and girlfriends (well, one would HOPE) and it wasn’t all of them, only some.  Then he named one who’d been kissed and another who said his girlfriend kept talking about it.  (Okay, bud, give me the name of that hussy so we can make sure you don’t end up dating HER in six months.)

I’m pretty sure there were a few moments of silence in there while I tried to sort through this new info, and eventually I asked the only question I could come up with: where exactly was this happening?  I mean, they don’t have a whole lot of unsupervised time.  They change teachers for different subjects, but all the classrooms are right there together so it’s not like they’re crossing through hallways unattended.

Well, it turns out our fifth graders are quite industrious.  I’d assumed this was going on at recess, and I think some of it is, but apparently couples that are in the same homeroom are grabbing stolen moments when their teacher steps out.

[blink, blink]

It was about this time that Bear chimed in with her little gem: “Well, I’M gonna go out with somebody for a YEAR before I kiss them.”

I can practically hear BrightSide smiling…