I’ve spent considerable time contemplating issues like class size, teacher quality and the importance of after school programs and art and music curriculums in middle school, first for my 7th grader and now for my soon-to-be-6th grader.
I probably should have spent more time checking out shoes.
Apparently shoes – what brand you wear and how many pairs you have — really matter in middle school, at least that’s what my 7th grader tells me. And his skateboarding little brother isn’t far behind.
It’s no longer okay to lace up any old pair of $20 sneakers and wear them till they are trashed.
My public school kids have somehow been tuned into websites where they can browse through thousands of cool and colorful high-end brands or design and customize their own Nikes. They've discovered skateboard shops stocked with DCs and Elements and other brands of sneakers that easily cost $85 or more.
My middle schooler has also brought home the idea that it's not enough to have ONE or TWO really cool pair of sneakers. You are to be pitied, my 7th grader warned me, if you wear the same pair of sneakers over again. Same goes with those pricey hooded sweatshirt jackets.
When I ask about the day -- hoping to catch a small tidbit about an interesting lesson, a book, an exciting moment in history -- I'm more likely to get a plea for new sneakers and a reminder of the horrific humiliation involved in wearing the same pair each day.
I don’t have any solutions or advice here (beyond putting your middle schoolers to work so they can buy their own shoes) but if you are just beginning to think about touring middle schools, you might want to shift your eyes downward a bit toward the footwear – and start saving up just in case.
Read all of Liz Willen's Middle School Muddle