A Continuation Commencement Concessionary Speech to My Dear Daughter

Kiddo, I’m incredibly proud of you.

You’ve just made it through 7 grueling years of public elementary schooling and crossed the finish line at the tippity top of your class. You’ve grown up through these years and shared these experiences with the exact same group of kids from day one. You still even have the same best friends you made on that fateful day in kindergarten when they didn’t laugh at you too much when you dropped your lunch tray all over yourself instead of that giant table. Cheers to all of your victories you’ve achieved here, large and small!

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Those days spent in elementary school certainly were unforgettable. Everybody laughed together. Everyone learned together. It was a tightly bound community where everyone genuinely cared for each other and all of you shared an unspoken bond, that together all of you kids were all going to succeed, ride or die.

You worked on fun projects, took part in science fairs, sung your heart out at band concerts, and had laughable anti-drug assemblies while sitting on the gym floor. You destroyed the competition on field days and won all the prizes at the school carnivals at the start of every new school year. Pretty much everything about elementary school (except for that math bullshit) was a blast!

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But now you’ve finished sixth grade and you are finally continuating on to seventh grade. You’ve finally earned the right to call yourself a legit middle school student, and you should wear that shit like the badge of honor. All that fun stuff you’ve become conditioned as an integral part of your learning to is soon to become nothing more than a fading memory. When start at a brand new school in August, I have some rather unfortunate news…

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Welcome to the real world.

The reality of middle school is a bleak realm jammed full of hucksters, dickhead bullies, unbridled oceans of hormones, and teachers that are one step away from a complete mental breakdown. Instead of sitting in the same classroom all day, you now have to navigate packed hallways in a frantic five minute rush to make it to the next class. If you miraculously make it to the next one before the bell rings, you might even catch one of our hilariously underpaid public servants sneaking a quick sip off a small bottle of Fireball as they send hopeless messages to one of their exes over Facebook messenger. This kind of silly shit never happened in elementary school!

Now, you are a stranger in a strange land.

Things in middle school haven’t changed one tiny bit since I navigated that hell myself, except that the music that everybody listens to these days sucks ass.

The first kinds of troublemakers that you are going to have to deal with is the sudden influx of hucksters and the ripoff artists. Even at 12 years old, there’s gonna be some pasty-faced entrepreneurs that are going figure out a way to completely game the system. They are easy enough to spot, they’re the kids with the giant backpacks selling back alley fidget spinners or Fortnight nude codes or whatever weird shit you kids are into these days.

When I was a seventh grader, there was a ginger kid who sold broken Gameboys that his dad fished out of the trash at his electronics store. He’d always sell these clunkers at school without the ten AA batteries included, because he knew that if you got a chance to actually try playing Mercenary Storm on it before forking over cash, he’d never sell anything. It ended up being a pretty successful racket, as it was too embarrassing to admit to authority figures you were dumb enough to have the fiscal responsibility of a toddler. It was a tough and heartbreaking lesson paying 45 dollars for a paperweight, because back then 45 dollars was Scrooge McDuck money during the glory days of the Desert Storm.

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Getting ripped off sucks, but there’s something even worse lurking around for you in the shadows. Middle school consists of two awful tiers, 7th and 8th grade. That means there are only two species of creatures in this ecosystem: predators, and prey. Middle school is a delicate circle of life, and for the entirety of seventh grade, you are nothing but a target to an entire grade level of testosterone-dipped jerkoffs who are enjoying the newfound freedom of middle school structure. These upstanding students are enjoying the last few months of being at the top of the food chain before they move on to high school, where once again they will be bottom feeders being shit all over by the older kids.

I was constantly attacked randomly in seventh grade for horrific crimes, such as looking a little too dorky, or not being decked out in the required amount of Z. Cavaricci crap. Sometimes the simple act of washing my hands after using the restroom was clearly an invitation to others that I wanted to start up Fight Club in the bathroom. Kids can be douchebags, but a lot of that comes from the fact that they haven’t yet figured out that establishing dominance over kids going just about their day isn’t going to make their dad love them (at all).

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So now you’re so broke that you can’t afford a box of Tart N’ Tinys, and are finally getting the hang of getting beat up on the regular. Starting now, and continuing all the way to adulthood, you will also have to contend with your body giving you the finger just like everything else in your life is. Welcome to the world of painful growing spurts, getting disgustingly hairy, being uncontrollably aroused at all times and achieving a level of personal stench that you’ve never thought possible in your wildest dreams.

You’re gonna have some smelly pals in your circle that will begin this journey before you, and once you start talking shit about them regularly, that’s when your stink will kick in, and your personal stench will be even more offensive. You and your gang of friends will be shrouded in a veritable cloud of B.O. that cannot be tamed nor controlled. There’s also a lot of freakish and universe-ending levels of sexual tension going on on both sides of the ball game. This hormonal dynamic pretty much makes everybody in your school insane (in the membrane). It’s a good thing that in middle school nobody actually acts upon these sexual urges because 1) that’s fuckin’ gross, and 2) everyone smells like dumpster onions.

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The biggest difference between middle school and elementary school is the slow push towards getting you ready for high school. Now you have a new face and set of teaching philosophies talking at your face-hole on the hour, every hour. While some of these teachers just run the table like a depressed robot repeating the same lesson and lecture 7 times a day, there are bound to be some weak links in the system that are going to cause the occasional glitch in the matrix.

My Spanish teacher was equal parts offbeat weirdo and fragile infant. On some days, we were graded for our freestyle raps in Spanish to the instrumental version of Funky Cold Medina. Sometimes there would randomly be tacos waiting for us. Every couple of weeks though, she’d have a really bad day which entailed self-depreciating banshee wailing because someone had the nerve to call her the “Spanish word for female dog!” This would give her free reign to sob uncontrollably at her desk for the remainder of the entire hour. Those days were really uncomfortable, because everyone just eyeballed each other in silence as she gave everyone in the room something fun to tell our therapists years later. Her psychosis struck a unique balance to next period’s shop teacher, who routinely demonstrated that it really does take a lot of antifreeze to really have any detrimental effect on the human body.

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I know this cautionary tale of terror is probably going to go into one ear and out the other. I’m not going to lie, the whole thing we’ve got here is a pretty busted fucking system. I would love to know who decided that being hunted like an animal, surrounded by thieves all while trying to conceal our unfortunate smelly erections is the best possible way for us to learn and grow.

Keep your chin up tho, These are the best years of your life!

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