When Michael was little, we used to play a game…’if you could have any superpower, what would it be?’ Depending on the stage Michael was at, the answer would change. Some of Michael’s top choices were; the ability to fly, to melt metal with his eyes, to teleport, to mind-read, or to have super-human strength.
My desire for time travel was never focussed on the future. I didn’t care about visiting future civilizations, future versions of myself or having a sneak peak at what was in store. My interest was entirely focused on the past. The idea of being able to visit the past was absolutely fascinating to me. The year I spent living in England was particularly wonderful and as I visited old ruins, cathedrals, castles and villages, I would imagine myself living in that time and place and daydream about what my life would have been like. And, to this day, my favourite movies are always the period pieces with the wonderful costumes, scenery and romance.
I was a parent volunteer on a full-day trip to Crawford Lake with all the grade sixes from Michael’s school. Michael had made it clear that he wanted nothing at all to do with me while we were on the trip. He did not want me to talk to him, to look at him, or to act in any way that would give away our relationship.
None of my parent buddies were on the trip and, with a bunch of eleven and twelve-year-olds, parent volunteers are completely invisible. Therefore, I spent the two-hour hike this morning completely on my own. Being by myself gave me the opportunity to not only observe Michael with his peers but to also observe the curious and distinctive interaction of a group of middle school kids.
And as I listened, I could feel myself being pulled back to my own middle school days. The need to be seen as ‘cool’, the wanting to be noticed by the boy you like, and the pressure to fit in with the crowd of your choosing. As I tuned into my own middle school days I was hearing snippets of conversation that took me back to the absolute angst of middle school; ‘I can’t believe she wears her jeans over her Bogs’, ‘do you think he likes me?’, ‘she is such a loser’, ‘what are you doing after school?’ I also marvelled at the distinctive body language that has not changed one bit since my middle school days; the eye rolling, the girl squealing, the boy roughhousing, the clumps of girls, and the less cool kids on the outside wanting desperately to be on the inside. I saw tears, laughter, fighting, anger, whispering, and fierce competition.
As we emerged from the woods I was so in tune with my own middle school reminiscences, it felt as if I had travelled back thirty three years to a much earlier version of myself. And I was almost startled and a little disoriented to come back so abruptly to my own time.
As I wandered through the woods today, I had that longed-for chance to time travel. And, I have to say, I couldn’t have been happier or more relieved to re-emerge back into my own time as the forty five-year-old parent and not the twelve-year-old girl struggling to find her place.