Nobody Likes a Smart Ass, and Other Words of Wisdom for my Middle Schooler

My son graduated from 5th grade this week. Sayonara primary, hello middle school. There were speeches and a song, recollections and recommendations. Come August, they’ll be chucked into the murky waters of middle school to swim with the big fish.

That’s right, chickadees: in eight short weeks your macaroni art and phonetic spelling primary school days will be but a mere #nofilter memory. Not quite the big league, but the minors for sure.

I can’t top the ubiquitous Wear Sunscreen commencement address that resurfaces every year around this time. Frankly, I doubt a group of armpit farting rising sixth graders are ready for life advice. They’ve got to navigate the minefield of middle school and the perils of puberty first.

Still, the occasion calls for some words of wisdom, even if they’re not old enough for pearls. So son, while you dance your way through the tweenage wasteland that is middle school, here are a few tidbits to get you through.

Expand your vocabulary. Homer is epic. The Grand Canyon is awesome. Everything else? Not so much.

Always thank the person who holds the door open for you. Thank the lunch lady and the checkout clerk too.


While we’re at it, always hold the door open for the person behind you.

Ask the girl out face to face. Break up with the boy in person. Conversation is a dying art. Cherish it.

Never start a sentence with “No offense, but.”

Don’t worry about your health education teacher asking for a show of hands to determine who has gotten their period or already has pubic hair.

The older you get, the more paperwork there is. Work on perfecting a killer signature.

Always start with something kind.

The pimple is not as noticeable as you think it is.

A best friend who makes you feel icky inside is not a best friend.

You will remember your locker combination.smoking

If you think your mother won’t approve of it, don’t do it.

Don’t let anyone tell you what you’re feeling isn’t real. It is. But whatever you’re feeling right now does not define who or what you are.

There’s a world of difference between being the best and doing your best.

You can have more than one group of friends.

In twenty years, people will remember the name of the kid who wasn’t afraid to wear two different color socks. Be that kid.

It’s ok to want to cuddle your Build-a-Bear one minute and want to Instagram a picture of it the next.

The quickest way to piss off an adult is to roll your eyes at them.

No one likes a smart ass.

Learn how to shake hands. Learn how to look people in the eye. Learn how to introduce yourself. They are the keys to opening doors.

Teacher and schoolboyIt’s ok not to have a passion. It’s ok if your favorite class is PE. It’s ok if the best part of school is seeing your friends. You learn a lot more than multiplication in school.

There are going to be teachers you hate on a Snape level.

There are going to be teachers who don’t like you on a Potter level.

Find a genre you love and read everything you can find in it.

The next few years are going to be a whirlwind of whiplash emotions. You will enter middle school like a lamb and come out like…if not a lion, then at least a slightly older, hopefully wiser lamb. Most likely with armpit hair.

I’m ready.

Are you?






10 Comments Add yours

  1. Elyse says:

    Nobody likes a smartass? Damn. I’ve been living my life all wrong.

    There was a nice man who lived in my neighborhood. But he had an accent that cracked me up, and for some reason, it was funniest when he said “shake.” He stopped one day as he drove by and put out his hand. “Shake, Leasie” he said in his funny accent. It cracked me up. I was quite young and grabbed the ends of his fingers in a woosie handshake. “No, No! Leasie!” he said. “Shake. Shake properly. Shaking hands is important. Shaking hands is your entry to the world.” He showed me how to do it correctly. But I loved to have him show me, so I could giggle at his accent. I did it wrong every time he stopped to say hello.

    He was a multi-millionaire. He was also right, and I have done it correctly ever since. Well, except with him ;0. Shaking hands is really important. (I only wish I could phonetically capture his accent. Yiddish and NY with a touch of mid-west. It was hilarious.)


    1. Dina Honour says:

      That’s a great story, Elyse! (I should clarify here as well that no one likes a MIDDLE SCHOOL smart ass. Adult smart asses can be appreciated if done right. I think the art of small talk (and it IS an art) is super important as well, but I think small talk is difficult until you are a young adult, otherwise it comes across as smarmy. But shaking hands and knowing how to introduce yourself? So important!


      1. Elyse says:

        True. Middle school smart asses make people sorry they ever had children. Or that somebody else had them!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. pieterk515 says:

    EXCELLENT! Brilliant advise…now where’s the tidbits for the parents?


    1. Dina Honour says:

      Lol, most of the same probably applies. Except the smart ass thing, carrying off being an adult smart ass is an art form ;-).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. pieterk515 says:

        I agree. I’m a smart-ass.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. pinklightsabre says:

    This is great, I think my 10-year-old is ready for it. Nice Dina. I especially like the call-outs to macaroni art and the armpit farting. And the bits about holding doors, learning to introduce oneself, not rolling the eyes. Life lessons (I just broke one of those last night with my 10-year-old, and rolled my eyes I think – bad dad).


    1. Dina Honour says:

      Just when I think I’ve nailed down the top ten hardest bits of parenting, I come up with another–in this case, practicing what you preach. I know it may be shocking, but there’s a lot of sarcasm in our house at any given moment. And I know it’s going to come back and bite us hard in the ass one of these days–soon. I roll my eyes too. But in all fairness, if I rolled them at an adult, my middle school advice would still hold true!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Melanie says:

    This is so touching. I want to save it and share it with my kids when they enter Middle School (still four & six years away, which might as well be tomorrow).


    1. Dina Honour says:

      You’re right. You’ll blink and they’ll be there. I keep coming back to the word ‘tween’ and how descriptive it is. My almost 11 y/o goes from being a little kid and all that goes along with that to being this incredibly responsible, mature funny big guy in the space of a few minutes. It’s exhausting.


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