When I was in middle school, going to school didn’t seem very stressful at all. It didn’t seem like there was nearly as much work to do. I didn’t have a problem going to and from all of my classes, I had lunch in the middle of the day, and then I’d go home. Once I got home, I’d do my chores and homework, if I had any. Even though it was only two years ago, it seems like forever. I was doing pretty good in most of my classes. So much so that they put me in accelerated courses. I remember enjoying my science class a lot. I even got 100% in my science class and got a medal for it. Going from middle school to high school was pretty cool. It was fun.
The first half of my 9th-grade year was super easy, but then it got much harder. In the second half of 9th grade, the teachers started getting tired of the kids. You could tell because they were a lot more moody and short-tempered. This is where things started to go downhill since I have ADHD, and I have been known to talk a lot in class and annoy teachers. This is also about the same time COVID-19 hit. That was just weird. It was all strange and different for everyone; school was a mess.
Even though the schools were not making kids do much work because they were trying to figure out what to do since they were shut down, my parents were still making me do assignments. “You have to keep developing your brain!” I didn’t see this as being fair, but… (let’s face it, there is no but). When summer came, it was a relief. I never felt like I could meet my teachers’ expectations, so enjoying life on the lake was a welcomed break. I spend every summer in Texas with my dad on Lake Texoma. My parents divorced when I was 3. When I came back home to start the 10th grade, we learned that school would be 100% online. At first, this sounded great! Unfortunately, I struggled to get work done, mainly because everything was new, and the amount of work had doubled. Some teachers are so frustrated with COVID-19 that they are now taking their frustrations out on us. Some good face-to-face teachers don’t know how to teach online, which makes learning anything a struggle. I was also issued a computer that is continuously crashing. Our school district’s network still messes up, even though we’re almost halfway through the year. These things combined make for a very stressful situation, especially for a kid who already suffers from anxiety issues.
Having to wear a mask or wash my hands all the time didn’t seem so bad. The worst thing about this COVID-19 experience has got to be the school thing and the fact that it is all online. Having to stay still and being in the same room every day is so repetitive. Also, not being able to see my friends is messed up. If it wasn’t for Instagram, TikTok, or Snapchat, I literally wouldn’t have a social life anymore. Before COVID-19 hit, my electronics were what my parents used to take away from me to “get me to focus.” We are a generation that grew up with electronics in our hands. Now more than ever, our phones and devices help keep us sane. They are our only way of being able to hang out or socialize. My house has a lot of rules for using social media and electronics. My mom has actually helped me out a couple of times when things could have gone wrong because she monitors my accounts.
A few months into COVID, some friends and I decided we would break the rules and hang out with each other because we were bored out of our minds. Come to find out, one of the girls that we hung out with tested positive for COVID. My buddies and I were freaked out at first. I think our parents were more freaked out than us. We each showed up at the nearest testing site separately, one by one anxiously awaiting to see if we contracted this disease that was killing a bunch of people. My parents were super nervous because of my asthma. In the end, we all tested negative, but in the meantime, we had to cancel my Spring break that I usually spend with my dad in Texas. I was pretty upset. Since then, most of my buddies and I use social media much more than usual to connect. We still hang out in person, but not near as much as before the pandemic. My mom had walked into my room a couple of times when I had a friend on Facetime, and she didn’t understand why we weren’t talking to each other. I had to explain to her that it was the closest we could get to being in the same room and that just because you’re in the same room with someone doesn’t mean you have to be talking all the time.
I guess my main point is that being a teen is already stressful. Hanging out with our friends is a massive part of who we are and not doing that is really one of the hardest things I’ve struggled with. The COVID-19 pandemic, and not to mention all of the other crazy things that have happened in 2020, make it really difficult to focus, get good grades, “make good choices” (as my mom always says), or just keep adults happy. My mom talks to me a lot about empathy, so a little empathy from parents can go a long way. After all, isn’t that what parents are trying to teach us kids, empathy?
If I could offer some advice to parents:
– Try to be more understanding of our situation. We are going to school during a pandemic… while being taught online… with failing technology.
– Social media is not the root cause of all evil. It has actually helped many of us get through this weirdness.
– Trust goes both ways. Don’t assume we’re always going to do something wrong on social media and try to “catch” us. Most of us just want to hang out and laugh and be kids.
Connor is a sophomore in high school studying to enter into business administration. He has played baseball since he was five, enjoys playing basketball with his friends, and watching football.
He is an avid bike rider, riding anywhere from 5-10 miles a day with his buddies. Connor enjoys collecting fossils, crystals, and other artifacts and hopes to go on an archeological dig one day.
Connor is originally from Texas but now lives on the East Coast. He gets to visit Texas every summer where he is dubbed the unofficial “President of Lake Texoma”, where he takes the waterways in his Sea-Doo watercraft.