Congratulations on your child starting eighth grade! And by congratulations we mean sweet weeping Moses, we’re terribly sorry, because eighth grade, if you have been through it, is commonly known as one of the top 3 worst grades of all time. By the end of this year, your previously delightful and affectionate treasure will be replaced by Harry Potter in the fifth book, except with much dumber musical tastes, so it’s best to start preparing for this change early. Here are a few items that might help:
A comprehensive pamphlet about hygiene: For people who are routinely obsessed with the opinions of those around them, eighth graders sure do not shower much. (Some of us, hypothetically, have to remind ours to close out the shower process by taking the evidently novel step of putting on a fresh set of clothes.) As such, it’s important to talk to your child about hygiene, particularly the following: 1. Yes, you have to brush your teeth every day, and in fact some overbearing, John Kelly-strict insane people suggest doing it up to three times a day, the jerks. 2. Why yes, we can tell when you are not using deodorant. and 3. There has never been a single recorded instance of Axe body spray making a girl like someone, so for the love of Pete stop emptying entire cans onto your torsos.
A comprehensive pamphlet about other people’s hygiene: Eighth graders need to know that if “washing your hands after peeing” is a major effort in their house, they should imagine the germ-encrusted nightmare that is other people’s places. As such, eighth-graders should go to school with no fewer than 50 tiny bottles of germ-murdering military-grade disinfectant goo, and several little baggies of tissues, which they can use in lieu of engaging in the usual eighth grade behavior, which is sneezing into thin air around 25 other people in a windowless box.
A dedicated savings account for purchasing bright lime green clothing: Do you remember how you dressed in normal colors in school? Yeah, that’s over. Watching a group of eighth-graders walking toward you in luminescent Under Armour shirts basically looks like they travel as early ‘90s boy bands. On the plus side, it makes them easy to spot at sporting events.
An absurdly protective laptop case: Many eighth-grade students will be required to bring laptops to school, which means they will be absent-mindedly dropped on thankless vinyl flooring nine times a day. Invest in a military-grade protective case, or, to save time, encase them in an actual brick of concrete, which will probably be safer.
An even more absurdly protective phone case: Do you remember how you were in eighth grade, a gangly storm of fumbling limbs whose bumbling would sporadically and accidentally organize itself enough to move in a forward direction? Right. There are a bunch of those people now, and we’re giving them all $1,000 handheld computers and telling them to, you know, be careful. A Sarcasm detector: Oh, right. That’ll work.
A prepared list of safe conversation topics: If you are one of those weirdoes who liked talking to your children, get over it. Under no circumstances should you ask about your eighth-graders’s day, school, classes, friends, girlfriends, boyfriends, teachers, homework, lessons, interests, hopes, insecurities, what they’re looking at on their phone and if they would mind taking their brother to the concession stand for a Coke. Pretty much just talk about baseball. If your child is not interested in baseball, try to talk about Trump. Under no circumstances ask them what they like to watch on YouTube, it is all incredibly stupid.
A protractor: We don’t get it either, but apparently they all need protractors, because God knows none of us go a single blessed day without finding ourselves in need of a protractor.
A backpack with enough space to theoretically summit K2: I don’t even know what’s going on with backpacks, but my kid’s school specifically outlawed wheeled book bags, because eighth graders have to bring suitcases with wheels now? Apparently our junior high hallways look like the Fort Myers airport.
A long-lead calendar: So you can flip forward five years and circle the magical date when they might maybe begin to start liking you again.