There is Something Special About the Seventh Grade.

My oldest starts the seventh grade next week and it seems like such a milestone.

Life as I know it started in the seventh grade.

In the timeline of my mind there is babyhood, toddlerhood, childhood, and then a big girlishly scribbled star in the middle of it all that was a turning point to something new, my life started to revolve around the friends I chose for myself.

Until fifth grade I’d had a best friend from infant-hood. We were close and spent lots and lots of time together until one day when we didn’t anymore. Our friendship ended abruptly, absent of grace, on her terms, and it broke my heart. On the heels of my other best friend moving to the next town over (which at the time seemed like an eternity away) and in my limited view as an eleven year old, I felt alone and rejected and wondered if I’d ever find a good friend again.

Sixth grade is a bit of a blur, I remember becoming closer with two cousins that year and having one hilarious buddy with a big “Turner and Hooch” dog. She kept me giggling late into the night when I went to her house and that dog terrorized me, but we weren’t overly social on the weekends. Nothing of great significance (besides being in every class with Zach) comes to mind.

Scene from “Eclectic Emily”

Yet seventh grade was so monumental in fact, I featured it in my first children’s book (*Affiliate Link)

That year I walked in to a sea of familiar faces in Ms. Jones class and one new face. Inside I still felt like I hadn’t quite found my place yet. I wasn’t athletic so I didn’t make friends on teams like some of my classmates did and I wasn’t overly extroverted so I didn’t fit in with the popular girls that the boys always liked.

In a way I felt unseen, invisible in a room full of chattering kids with that first day of school buzz in the air, until I realized the new girl had a look on her face that matched the way I was feeling. At almost the same time we turned to each other and made our introductions. I didn’t know it then, but I had just met the friend who would change my life.

Laura and I had this rare kind of friendship grace between us from the very start. I’d never had a friend I didn’t tire of or who didn’t tire of me after a sleepover, but first time I went to her house through high school we were inseparable. She loved me, flaws and all, and I loved her right back.

That was the beginning of a beautiful friendship and a year that included starting a club called “L.A.K.E” (the first initials of our names). Those two cousins from sixth grade and I remained friends and we added Laura in to make intentional memories every month doing various things that spanned from makeovers to sleepovers, ice skating, rollerblading and movie nights. I always had my camera so we are well documented in our 90’s glory. These were the friends I chose to spend my adolescence with and it was special.

My 7th Grade Rollerblades

Zach also sat behind me in class, oblivious that I thought he was the cutest boy in the whole school. One day at lunch sitting across from me, he was grossed out by my retainers sitting on my lunch sack. “Wrap those things in a napkin!” Embarrassed that my crush was grossed out by me I quickly hid them inside my sack. Then in 12 year old fashion I absentmindedly threw them away.

When I got back to class and went to put them in the front of my backpack, I panicked. The teacher sent Zach and two other boys who volunteered dumpster diving for them! And can you believe Zach found them! My hero!

This is the year I also remember starting to think on my own of what choices I did and did not want to make, purposing in my heart to remain loyal to God and charting the course He had for me.

At the end of that school year we went on a trip to New York and Washington D.C. I left on that trip crying because I was afraid to leave my parents and came home crying because I didn’t want to leave NYC, another dot on my timeline.

I pray that this will be the year Jonah takes agency in his life to choose his people, the ones that will be the characters in his story. Life is so sweet when you have these moments to look back and remember.

There is something special about the seventh grade.