When Your Daughter Has Locker Trouble

by - September 08, 2010

We are well into our third full week of school, and Noelle still isn't using her locker.

The sixth grade teachers make a big to-do over lockers, locks, and combinations. They hand you the combination printed out on an unimpressive slip of yellow paper, but with all the fanfare, you'd think it was the keys to the kingdom. They even suggest these young'uns move into it like its their first apartment.

But by seventh grade, it's supposed to be old hat. The thirty-five seconds it takes to pass out the combinations is all the time that's invested in hallway real estate, and most of the kiddos are fine with that -- they learned that lockers were over-rated about halfway through sixth grade.

Not so for Noelle. She homeschooled through sixth grade and totally missed the locker hype and learning curve. She had only minimal practice the day before school started with a borrowed locker and combination, a generous gesture by her sixth-grade-cat's-meow sister, who was quite enamored with her new locker and middle school status. And Noelle found success after only three failed attempts, then did it again, just for fun. She'd figured it out; Right of passage gained; The end . . . or so she thought.

The next day, nerves all but gone since yesterday's success, she faced the unanticipated: a built-it lock. Noelle had memorized her combination in fifteen seconds flat, but soon learned that knowing the combination doesn't earn you access. Open Sesame just won't cut it, and locker locks are totally unimpressed with the height of embarrassment.

Humiliated, she excused away every opportunity for help. "I forgot to ask," "I didn't have time," "There was no recess today..." Finally, after I emailed her teacher, she was given the opportunity to linger in the hallway during recess to figure it out.

12-33-7. Nothing. 12-33-7. Nothing. Over and over, for the entire length of recess, with each jerk of the lock that was unmet with success, negativity heaped higher.

You Can't Do It.
Why Try?
I Look Like An Idiot.
How come everyone else can do this?!

And the pack on her back got heavier and heavier. Not with the weight of books, but with shame. The kind a kid shrugs off as nothing when they're trying hard to fit in and look like they've got it all under control.

So today, I'm driving to the school to pick her up. And to pick her up. We'll enter the front door, and storm the seventh grade hallway together, owning the place. I'm a woman on a mission because the real shame would be in allowing my middle schooler to be defeated by a yet-empty, metal box. We won't leave until she has claimed the square footage of that school that rightfully belongs to her.

Today she takes back her pride. She'll learn that when problems arise, you can't just stuff them in your bookbag and lug them around with you. It might hurt a little. It might be a bit embarrassing that Mom had to come to the rescue, but I know deep down she'll be relieved that I did, even if she won't admit it.

I won't be deterred, because middle school's too heavy to carry around on your back every day. She needs access to the place where she can lay her burdens down. Aren't we all in need of that?

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  1. that's right, you show that ole' locker
    whose boss and give it a piece of
    your mind for adding any weight to
    your seventh grader's heavy load!

    way to go.

  2. It might not surprise you that to my knowledge, T hasn't overtaken his locker yet either. No big to-do in high school, I suppose. It's not on his flight path for most of the day, so he hasn't taken the time. Yet. :)

    Have fun storming the castle!


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